Learning how to network with Macmillan
I struggled greatly with networking before this workshop, I was always under the impression that it was a difficult task. During our workshop, however, I learned just how easy networking could be.
Networking can be a difficult task. However, aspiring young professionals are expected to engage in networking in order to advance our businesses and our careers. Before attending the Macmillan workshop, “The Joy of Networking with Macmillan: Making Authentic Connections,” I struggled with forming genuine and successful connections and cultivating professional relationships. I did not like networking for several reasons, including being introverted, not feeling confident, and not knowing my next career steps. However, I’ve become more open to making connections and my fears have subsided since the workshop.
The “Mentors For the Day” from Macmillan were helpful in teaching us new networking techniques. A problem I had with networking prior to this workshop was the feeling of inauthenticity when I tried to connect with others, especially when thinking of opportunities as my only motivation for the interaction. I felt pressured by the thought of failure, of not making the best of the networking event, and of trying to present my most desirable qualities so as to not let opportunities pass me by. I tried to engage in making connections with people whose interests didn’t align with mine. This process did not serve me well. In the name of networking, I tried to strike up a conversation with everyone and that was hard for me because I had to work on keeping my interest in their story, especially if I was not passionate about the topic. However, genuine interest and staying attentive, according to the mentors, is not difficult when you are genuinely interested in the person and the conversation and not only what they have to offer. Networking isn’t only about work opportunities, so showing genuine interest in making a connection is key to having a successful time networking.
In addition to my fear of being inauthentic, I always believed that networking had to be an extremely constructed conversation and that’s another reason I struggled with talking to others in a professional setting. But I learned during the workshop that it’s as easy as the relationships we form during Girls Write Now workshops and it’s as easy as sharing my work during Friday Night Salons, which are all examples of networking that I already do without second guessing myself. I learned that I can take the same skills I already use and apply them to networking events that cause me more anxiety.
I also, wrongly, treated networking as a quizzing session to learn as much as possible about the other person’s career, especially if they’re in a field I’m interested in—so much so that I would only ask them questions about themselves while rarely giving any information on myself. However, I learned that networking involves small talk and an important aspect of that is mutual interest. It’s a two way street. It can be as simple as getting to know the person’s hobbies while also sharing what you like to do. Asking questions to show interest is okay, but it shouldn’t feel like the other person is being interrogated. I got to practice small talk in our breakout session. During the workshop, I introduced myself to my mentors and peers, I asked questions, and I also gave information on myself.
Another reason I had for not sharing was the fear of being my authentic self. Thanks to the advice I received during the workshop about knowing that I have unique experiences just like everyone else, I felt comfortable to share my struggles with networking. I was shocked to hear that even my mentors—who are already in the professional world—also struggle to network. When I opened up about myself, the conversation naturally flowed. My favorite part of the session was learning that myself and the two mentors in our breakout room, all worked at an ice cream shop at some point. I not only asked them questions, I also shared a fact about myself which led to us talking about our respective experiences with that type of job. This led to a hilarious retelling of how difficult it is to scoop ice cream. The other mentees that were in the room also shared their stories and their interests in working a similar job and I was able to share with them that my job was hiring. I realized at that very moment how easy networking is.
The workshop taught me new skills to use when networking, but it also taught me that making connections is easier than it seems, and that I had been doing it all along. My takeaways were that networking is just small talk, getting to know each other, and that for that to work you need to have mutual interest in each other’s stories. Be your authentic self and don’t be scared to open up conversation with others. I had to learn that what I have to say is just as important as what the other person has to say. When I shared my experience, it was clear that others could relate. I have knowledge, skills, and experiences to share, and once I realized that, I began to see how easy it is to network. I’ve been doing it all along without noticing. I enjoyed this workshop and learned how to make better connections. However, networking isn’t only about getting work opportunities, so if no advancements come to your career from the situation, at least you made a friend and acquired knowledge.
My piece was inspired by the networking event we had with Macmillan called “The Joy of Networking with Macmillan: Making Authentic Connections”. I always struggled with networking so when I saw that workshop being offered, I knew I had to attend. During the event, we learned how to be less intimidated by networking and that helped me a lot. However, I was able to absorb the lessons even better when I started writing because I realized I retained a lot of the information I learned and I just needed to put them to practice.
Anne C. Chery is a movie enthusiast. Her future goals are to, soon, produce and write her own movies, short videos and songs. She is currently studying psychology in college and she aims to produce work that bridges cultural gaps, brings others together and most importantly work that prioritizes the importance of mental health. On her spare time she loves to style clothes online and she loves listening to her favorite songs.