Networking is a verb. Anyone in business will tell you the importance of networking – but it’s all just talk until you actually get out and start doing it!
Last night, my colleague and fellow BC alumni Jason Fidler and I attended a “Speed Networking” event put on by the Boston Chapter of the Boston College Alumni Association that was quite different from any networking event I’d previously attended.
The first hour was filled with the typical mingling and socializing you’d expect to find at a networking event, except with one of the most beautiful backdrops of Boston you could imagine. But, as the night continued, we were all asked to sit down at the table with the corresponding field we had identified as our primary industry. There were tables for those in education, finance, IT, marketing, accounting, legal and more.
We were then given specific networking questions to go through one at a time within a certain time allotment. A bell would ring and we’d be given the next question for discussion around our industry tables. Questions included everything from basic introductions to thought-provoking queries about industry trends, issues and developments. Some of the questions included:
- How do you stay up to date on what’s going on in your industry?
- What do you see as the key challenges and opportunities in your function?
- How do you maintain your professional network?
- What advice would you have for someone trying to advance their career in your field?
This format was extremely beneficial as it wasn’t the people who were rotating around the room, making one-on-one introductions, as you’d expect from something akin to “speed dating.” Instead, the questions rotated and you got a chance to really know the people, roles and insight at your industry-specific table.
By dividing people up by industry, it was easy to instantly connect with those who may provide the most valuable conversations. Usually, at networking events, people are haphazardly thrown together and you often get stuck talking to someone who may not be a fit for your industry, job or networking purpose. This event devised a clever way around that dilemma to great effect.
Throughout the event, the organizers kept reminding everyone that networking is just the beginning. It is the first step in developing meaningful connections to further your career, industry and business, and it’s up to us to take networking to the next level. Making an introduction to someone is one thing, maintaining that connection is another. Networking is a verb and it’s all about what you do with it!