Attending a networking event? Relax, it’s just talking
By Darryl Glen
Staff Accountant | Audit and Advisory
When I was in university, a guest speaker visited my business writing class. His name was Omar Mouallem, an independent writer and journalist who owes much of his success to networking. But networking is so stressful! There’s pressure, it’s awkward and there are subtle nuances, social cues and etiquette.
Well, at least that’s how I felt until last year. I had just arrived home from Japan, and two days later was the Meet the Employer event with all the big accounting firms. I remember feeling nervous en route to the venue – all that social anxiety, awkwardness and pressure was just building up. I felt unprepared and nervous. Lucikly, I saw a few people I recognized shortly after I arrived. I chatted with them and before I knew it, I was meeting new people from various firms and enjoying some regular conversation with them. Huh. How did that happen?
It was only then that it really sunk in: networking is just talking. That’s it! Everyone talks. That’s all you have to do. Still not sure what to do? Well, here are some things I do (and don’t do) when I’m talking.
1. Talk about your passions. I love swing dancing and I love talking about it. What interests you? What do you love to do? People respond favourably to authenticity and passion.
2. Ask people about themselves. This is everyone’s favourite subject, so ask them about their passions, family or career. I met so many accountants that love to travel, and I always loved hearing about their most recent adventure.
3. Be yourself. It’s simple. It’s cliché. It’s true. Be genuine, be real and just be you.
4. Relax! Whether that means breathing deeply a few times, taking a couple of extra washroom breaks to get away from the crowd, or pretending you’re a jellyfish; just relax and remember: it’s just talking.
1. Talk accounting all the time. Absolutely ask questions about things you’re interested in, or really want to know. But generally speaking, leading with “so, how ‘bout that CPA unification?” is sure to lose someone’s interest pretty quickly. At these events, I would estimate that 80% of my conversations have nothing to do with accounting.
2. Try to impress people. It’s not a competition to see who has travelled the most, knows the most about accounting, or can ask the most intelligent questions. This sort of thing is sure to bore.
3. Die. Really though, that’s not going to happen at a networking event, so just relax!
Darryl is a recent graduate from MacEwan University with a major in accounting. He is currently a Staff Accountant in our Edmonton practice.