I recently graduated from Bath Spa University with a degree in Business and Management, I don’t know about you but after three years I was relieved to know I never have to write another assignment again. Like many of you I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I finished uni, I liked marketing so decided I would pursue something along those lines. Although I wasn’t really sure how or where to start, lucky for me my uni sends out weekly emails listing a number of graduate jobs. That’s when I saw a marketing internship for a business local to me, I decided to go for it.
Yes, you guessed it I got the internship. I now work for Alison Edgar, The Entrepreneur’s Godmother and one of the UK’s Top 10 Business advisers, as a Marketing and Sales Assistant. Interning for a small business means my job is varied and I get lots of autonomy to try and do new things. I have developed many new skills since starting, learning how to network being the most valuable and fun. Before the internship the idea of networking was extremely daunting to me and was definitely something I was hoping to stay clear of. Luckily for me that is no longer the case.
I am two months into my internship and have been to a number of events, workshops, and expos. Looking back to when I first interviewed for the role I would never have imagined myself actually enjoying networking events and attending them willingly. Working for Alison has helped push me out of my comfort zone, enabling me develop skills but most importantly boosting my confidence both in my personal life and at work. Networking experience is great to have, it could help your C.V stand out from other applicants and it helps develop interpersonal skills, which will come in handy for future interviews.
I thought networking was going to be hard; how do you approach people? What do you say? Who should I talk to? What’s an elevator pitch? It turns out I was wrong, it isn’t that difficult. If you are new to networking remember one thing, everyone is in the same boat. Everyone feels a little awkward and nervous to begin with but everyone is there for the same reason as you, to grow their business. So don’t worry about approaching random groups of people and don’t worry about what you are going to say, just listen to what they have to say. One of the best tips Alison gave me is; you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that order.
Something else you should know, people are generally nice and welcoming. I was worried that nobody would talk to me but majority of people are kind and they will talk to you. They are there to meet new people just as much as you are. I have met some really interesting people at networking events. It opens you up to a whole new world of people that otherwise you would never get to meet.
Another bonus is food, if there is one thing you can take from most networking events, its food. So if you are like me and love food then that is only another reason to get out there and expand your network.
So in just over a month I have gone from a shy, quite, newbie in the networking world to an ambitious, confident networking professional. Okay, so I still get a bit nervous sometimes but turns out networking is one of my favorite parts of my job. So much so that I actively look for events to go to, can you believe that?
My 3 Top Tips for Networking
If like me you are newly graduated looking to expand your network, here are my three top tips:
- Prepare – Most networking events will provide you with an attendee list beforehand, do some research and find out who is most important for you to talk to.
- Listen – Remember two ears and one mouth, it’s really important to listen to others, that way you will learnt what it is they want and how you can help them.
- Relationships – Networking is about building relationships, some people make the mistake of using every networking event as a sales pitch, it’s much better to get to know someone instead of going straight in with an irrelevant sales pitch.
If you see me at a networking event don’t be afraid to come say hi. It’s never too late to grow your network.
– Kiya Newnham (Marketing and Sales Intern)