The director of the graduate program recently organized a get-together for English professors, incoming graduate students, current graduate students, and former graduate students. When she posted about the event on the department’s Facebook page, I knew I was going to attend the event. I saw the event as a great way to meet new people as well as to network. And I did exactly that.
I like to meet new people. I used to not like people to truly meet me. To know where I come from, what my professional and personal interests are, etc. In short, I didn’t like to network with people.
Networking is a term that is often associated with the workplace and with career. Yet, the concept of networking exists in every aspect of an individual’s life. Networking is knowing people. Networking is people knowing you. Networking is key to survival.
At the event, I spoke with many of the professors who came. I introduced myself, and when the opportunity presented itself, I spoke about my professional interests, including mentioning my achievements. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say to them, “Hi, I’m Lauren. Let me read you my resume.” I did, however, talk about myself.
I wondered if I had said too much at the event. I thought, “Did I talk about myself too much?” I talked to my mom about it, and she said something that stuck with me.
“No one else is going to tout your horn, honey. You have to tout your own horn.”
At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for marketing themselves. We’re our own publicity, our own marketing team. I think what’s important is to have a stellar image to pitch.
Still, a part of me was tempted to replay the evening over in my mind, focusing on any points where I might have been perceived as bragging or being self-centered in the conversation. But as tempting as that part of me was, the larger part of me dismissed that idea. I’m at a place in my life where I’m focusing on my career, and I refuse to apologize for my ambition. So, yeah, I talk about myself, and I enjoy talking with others about their selves. Because I like to know people, and I like people to know me. Otherwise, it would be a very lonely life.
What techniques do you use when networking?