Birkbeck’s School of Business, Economics and Informatics (BEI) organized a summer mixer in the Clore Management Centre last Friday – the last day of summer term.
It was a networking event open for all BEI students to meet other students and broaden their industry networks.
Besides the obvious wine drinking and canapé consuming, students were encouraged to speak to new people for the first time and learn about each other through networking.
Birkbeck’s Events and Communications officer, Matthew Jayes, handed everyone a networking bingo card to get the ball rolling with an icebreaker game.
Instructions on the card included ‘find someone who loves cycling’ and ‘find someone who plays a musical instrument.’
For some, the experience can be exciting and fun yet, laborious and nerve-racking for others.
Yet, there are many benefits to having an icebreaker game as it forces people to talk to each other for the first time and get over the fear of embarrassing themselves.
Students were keen to network so, they took full advantage of the icebreaker game. Some laughed with those who admitted they had an addiction for buying shoes while others practiced their introductions with vegetarians.
Peckham began by explaining how she had the unfortunate experience of losing her job many years ago, which led her to work with Heather White, networking architect and founder of Smarter Networking Ltd.
‘From a scale of 1 to 10, how important is networking to you?’ asked Peckham. There were a variety of answers to her questions including: ‘career advancement’ or ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’
However, as Peckham explained, the answer can be much more simplier – by re-addressing the motivation behind wanting to network in the first place.
Reasons may include meeting people in the same industry or finding a potential business partner; the list is endless.
Building relationships with people, whether it’s in a professional or personal capacity, is a competency. It is also a marketable skill employers find attractive as it requires someone to be sociable and confident.
Peckham went into further detail on giving the best handshake and how to make an impact when introducing yourself to someone new.
This can be done by asking a handful of specific questions; it allows a conversation to develop naturally. Such questions include:
- What’s your name?
- What project are you currently working on?
- What brought you here tonight?
- What do you like doing outside of work? Or, do you have any hobbies?
- Shall we connect on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn can be a great place to showcase someone’s employment history and meet other people within their industry network.
It is also one of the most used tools that businesses, potential employers and recruiters use to identify candidates for competitive jobs.
Peckham ended her talk by asking everyone to use her advice, ‘go out there and network!’
Various networking events take place in London including:
The only way someone gets better at networking is through practice.
Written by Mary Grace Nguyen (Chief-Editor and Founder of Flock to the Crown)