Campus Blog: Avoiding that ‘awkward moment’ while networking
By Tarini Chandak
Staff Accountant, Audit and Advisory | Winter/Summer 2014 Co-op
Networking can be an intimidating and arduous process. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone and thinking about how you present yourself. If you are nervous, visibly uncomfortable or ill-prepared, it can lead to the kind of awkward moments that make us cringe every time we remember them.
Through my networking experiences in various professional situations, I have created a list of six tips to help you feel more comfortable and avoid those awkward moments:
- Prepare: Consider who you are meeting with, what you want to talk about and what sort of impression you want to leave. Refresh your memory on past conversations you’ve had with recruiters and consider new questions or insights to add.
- Act natural: It’s good to appear confident and prepared but beware of appearing too rehearsed. Demonstrate that you are as comfortable and professional talking to clients and senior management, as you are talking to recruiters and peers.
- Substance over chit-chat: While humour is great and allows recruiters to see your personality, keep in mind the true purpose of networking. Make sure there is substance in your conversations regarding what you hope to learn and what you can offer and be mindful of the impression you leave behind.
- Ask meaningful questions: Think about a few solid questions you hope to ask during your conversations to obtain critical information or to act as conversation fillers.
- Stand out: As you prepare for the conversations, think about what makes you different and how to highlight these qualities. This may be a particular experience you’ve had, a thoughtful insight you want to share or a goal you want to achieve.
- Follow up: This tip is critical to the success of your networking experiences. Make sure you exchange business cards, remember key takeaways and write personalized follow up emails that are based on the conversations you had. It will be the follow up that helps you seal the deal or open future conversations.
So prepare, act natural, and have fun! Who knows what doors your next networking conversation might open?
Tarini is a 4th year student at the University of Waterloo majoring in Accounting and Financial Management, Public Accounting Specialization.