2/6/2016 6:08:35 PM

A Student's Perspective: Speed Networking

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

By Johnathon Bogardus '14

As the doors opened, I found myself staring into a scary sight - a room of 28 local professionals who were waiting to talk to me. They were all at Siena College participating in the Career Center’s Speed Networking Night. It was a bit unnerving, but I knew they were there to help my classmates and I develop our networking skills, which could ultimately help us land our first jobs.

After we broke the ice by playing a game of BINGO with a networking twist, Career Center Associate Director Suzanne O’Connor provided advice on how to start conversations and feel comfortable networking. O’Connor suggested the following ways to make networking events easier to navigate, even for seasoned professionals: Arrive early, even if you do not like crowds, bring a friend and use the snack table as a conversation starter.

Katie Garippa and Traci Koppenhafer from one of the event’s sponsors, the Capital Region Human Resource Association, added some more helpful hints and put on an entertaining display of how not to act when networking. Garippa and Koppenhafer also provided a prime example of the right things to do and demonstrated a perfect “Elevator Speech” – a person’s 30-second spiel that touches on the main points they’d want an employer or individual to know.

As Speed Networking Night continued, we were given the chance to put what we learned to work while meeting three new people from a room filled with a variety of professionals, including attorneys, teachers, salespeople and marketing pros. I quickly learned that even if I was speaking with someone from a different field of interest, they often had connections to people who could help me in my career pursuits. On more than one occasion, they gave me contact information and another person to network with.

Coldwell Banker Prime Properties Director of Relocation and Business Development Ryan Watroba ’07 shared his experiences to show the importance of networking. After Watroba’s talk, I realized that networking is not something I have to perfect right away. Instead, it’s something I should continue to improve upon because it’s vital to career success. I also realized that I’m fortunate to participate in events like this at Siena because they allow me to develop my skills in a safe and friendly environment before I’m out in the real world.

During the event, we also learned that even with all the networking practice in the world, bad social media profiles can counteract all of our great conversations and make our job searches grind to a screeching halt. Since I’m on social medial every day, this idea really struck me. Whether we like it or not, future employers, clients or business partners can access what we post. That’s why it’s important to use sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to share information we’re proud of rather than hiding content we’re embarrassed about.

As a senior accounting major, I found Speed Networking Night to be a big help. I received guidance and advice from professionals who helped me develop a tangible skill that I’ll need to use as I pursue a career after college.

Contact: Ken Jubie '04
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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