Networking is the process or action of interacting with others to exchange information to develop professional or social contracts. Networking also allows one to express their opinions and boost their self-esteem as they gain a new support system.
In today's world, networking is a necessity. Professional networks can lead to more job and business opportunities as well as an improved capacity to innovate.
Below, Lorena shares her experience with networking:
Before I joined BRDG, I had little to no experience in networking. My soft skills are not the best, and I had a fear of rejection. When I joined BRDG, my mentor Anabella Bonfa helped me gain confidence in networking and taught me how to go about casual networking. I always thought networking was in a serious environment, and it might be a bit awkward talking to strangers.
I learned that this is not the case, everyone is human, and it is okay to step out of your comfort zone. Anabella set up a lunch meeting where we would both meet Lily Li, a privacy and cybersecurity lawyer, for the first time. We emailed each other our availabilities and agreed on a date and place to have our lunch meeting.
Prior to the meeting, I was given the task to research Lily and come up with questions I can ask. I carefully viewed her LinkedIn profile and also went on her law firm website. Anabella shared a helpful article on Lily that helped me learn her story. We talked over the phone, where we shared what we learned about her, and also what questions we had in mind.
On the day of the meeting, I accidentally went to the wrong restaurant. I felt embarrassed that I went to the wrong location and was running a bit late; however, when I got there, they both greeted me with a smile and were understanding.
During the meeting, I got to hear many stories about their journey as lawyers and what challenges they've faced. I also shared a bit about myself and asked questions I had in mind.
Unlike what I thought networking was about, this networking practice was very low pressured and like felt like an everyday thing. Having lunch or doing an activity with someone you're meeting for the first time can ease the anxiety you may have as it did with me.
I realized networking is not so scary and a great way to build connections.