When you enter university, especially if you enroll in a business program, one of the most popular terms you will hear is “networking.” Every time you turn a corner, someone will be talking about how important it is to meet new people or grow your network. If you’re more on the shy side like I am, that may absolutely terrify you. I will admit that I spent the better part of three years avoiding the many networking opportunities provided to students in the Ted Rogers School of Management. But being in my final year of university and having transformed into a slightly less socially awkward person, I decided to apply for the Ryerson Marketing Association‘s 7th annual Careers in Marketing (CIM) night and attend my very first networking event.
This event is a networking opportunity where 3rd and 4th year students have the chance to speak with various recruiters and marketing professionals in the industry. The night involves three sessions: a formal recruitment portion (where you are interviewed one-on-one by three of the many recruiters present) and two smaller networking sessions (where you move from table to table to speak with various professionals). The only catch is that it is a speed networking event – you are placed with a professional for approximately seven minutes before being moved to a new spot.
Honestly, I was really worried about how the event would go. How was I supposed to network with someone in seven minutes?! It usually takes me a while before I’m comfortable enough to have a natural conversation with someone, so attending this event really pushed me to be more outgoing. When you’re working within such a short time frame, you realize that you have to make the most of the time you have with each person. Instead of approaching the event with an “I need a job ASAP” mentality, I looked at it as a learning opportunity to hear from marketing professionals working in careers that I hope to pursue. Coming to that realization took a ton of pressure off and helped me become comfortable and confident.
Was I able to have amazing conversations with every person I spoke to? Definitely not. Sometimes it would be hard to carry on the conversation, and it would feel like an hour before our time was up. In contrast, when I had the chance to speak with people whose careers I wanted to learn more about, the time flew by. Regardless of how I felt each conversation went, I got to learn so much about the marketing industry and post-university life.
Attending CIM was a great first networking experience, and I’m surprised that I was even nervous to begin with. Networking, especially as an introvert, is not as difficult as you might think; it just takes a little pep talk to get yourself going!