Networking Legends: A Participant’s Perspective

IMG_6621June 12th’s Meet NYC’s Networking Legends event at Dorsey & Whitney was officially WAC’s best-attended event in the 1st half of 2014! Many of our esteemed members, as well as numerous new faces, were in the room to witness a panel discussion that zeroed right in on a theme that all WAC events are notable for: Networking! One of those special attendees was Salonee Shaw, a bright and familiar face at many of our events. Salonee graciously offered us her feedback after Networking Legends, presented neatly here on our blog page. Read on for some handsomely organized insight from one of the most ambitious and creative minds in our community; it will give you a feel for the kinds of experiences available to anyone with the intuition to attend our valuable events. -Deborah

All professionals are continually reminded of the importance of making connections and building their networks. However, networking is a task that is often easier said than done. It can feel awkward, forced, and unnatural, and demands a keen mix of art and science. Luckily, there are definite ways to make the process less daunting and to truly learn how to both build and leverage a strong network.

On June 12th, WAC met NYC’s Networking Legends for a night of discussion on effective networking. While nothing substitutes hearing the unique advice these four prominent leaders had to offer firsthand, there were some common threads to their approaches. Networking can be broken down into four key steps:

Grow your network

Nurture the relationships

Manage your connections

Leverage your network

All four leaders consciously follow these steps, and in the panel discussion, they outlined very clearly the means byphoto 3 (14) which to meet all four objectives.  For example, growing your network should first involve taking a step back to identify your natural, preexisting connections and creating a list of people you know by industry.  It also requires attending targeted events where you will be able to meet the right people and putting in the proper preparation, which includes conversation topics and questions to ask. Perhaps one of the most difficult steps in the networking process is managing your connections; it is crucial to actively keep track of with whom you need to be checking in and following up.

The panel discussion was followed by small breakout sessions, each guided by one of the networking legends. This was an opportunity to dig deep and ask targeted questions. The discussion fostered the sharing of best practices and allowed for each participant to gain personalized feedback. The night ended, of course, with a networking session— one that certainly felt far more seamless due to the prior discussion. Ultimately, effective networking can be learned and practiced. Therefore, it is so important to take the time to properly grow, nurture, manage, and leverage your network!

Salonee Shah is formally a student at Columbia University, but informally a student of all things related to personal and professional development. She will soon begin what she hopes will be a long and successful career in finance, making sure to live true to the mission of WAC along the way. Link here to read Salonee’s previous WAC guest blog post.