Last week, the Cal Alumni House sponsored a networking event. I went because I thought it’d be fun to see the Berkeley campus and see what the featured speaker had to say about career success.
My first thought back in Berkeley was that a lot has stayed the same. Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s..the corporate stalwarts were still there as I walked up to campus from BART. I was astounded that the Musical Offering cafe was still around. Groups of dancers were practicing in front of Zellerbach.
The event started at 6:30pm, but I got there at 7:00pm. I’m not much of a schmoozer as I hoarded my plate with crackers, cheese, and egg rolls, and took it to the back patio. I was the only one outside, sitting by myself even though several tables were setup with floral arrangements of blue irises and gold daisies. The place was packed and everyone else was mingling intensely inside. California’s 12% unemployment rate is making itself known.
The featured speaker, an alum Robin Holt who is a principal at the Bay Area Career Center, asked for a show of hands of those who were looking for a job. I think I was the only one who didn’t raise my hand. She gave some obvious advice that needs to be repeated.
– Networking is critical to your job search.
– Your next job will likely come from a personal contact.
– Focus your energy on face-to-face and voice-to-voice interactions.
– Relationships need to be mutually beneficial so focus on the needs of others, not just on your own.
– Prepare and practice your 30 second networking introduction: “I am, I can, I want.”
I never considered that last point before so I prepared something in my head after she gave a few examples. “Hi, I’m Catherine Gacad. I’m a Cal alum with an MBA from Chicago. I have ten years of experience in consulting, product management, and investor relations, but I’m looking for a media opportunity where I can utilize my passion for writing. Here’s a business card. Take a look at my blog or follow me on Twitter.”
After the featured speaker finished, we had an opportunity to network, but it wasn’t a free for all. Our name tags were color-coded by major. I think it’s really funny that I double-majored in Biology and English, but I was grouped with the Reds: journalism, history, political science, communications. They made us mingle within our color-code, then they had the blues come over and mingle with the reds, or the oranges come over and mingle with the greens. It was really well-structured.
I met some very interesting people. Hopefully I helped some people, too. I energized one woman to get on Yelp to give her business more traction.
I came away with several other tips and gold nuggets of information so if you’re interested, give me a shout. But mainly, jobs go to familiar people. So go connect! I think going to the event was rather well-timed since now I’m sniffing around for other job opportunities.