My First Experience NetworkingPosted on
By: Ashley Delgado (2018 Fellow, National Louis University)
As a junior at National Louis University, I never understood the importance of social capital until I enrolled in Braven. Being a Fellow at Braven introduced me to five key competencies that employers seek in entry-level employees. One of those competencies is networking and communicating. Therefore, as part of the second project in the Braven Accelerator, myself and other Fellows were required to attend a networking event to build upon our professional networks. Eagerly, I set off to begin my journey to increase my social capital.
First, I needed to figure out which event to attend. I searched for “Networking Events in Chicago” on Google and came across a website called Eventbrite. Having a passion for feminism and women’s advancement, I looked up “women empowerment networking events.” That’s where I came across WIN – Women in Leadership Panel — a dynamic discussion for women that are leading in various industries. I became more excited the more I read about the event. I was curious as to what these professional women’s everyday responsibilities looked like and how they developed their own leadership skills. The event was right after my internship at 5:30 p.m. I was anxious because I was unsure of what was expected of me at a networking event. What should I wear? Should I bring my resume? What kind of atmosphere will I walk into? I wanted to make sure I made a good first impression once I got there.
I was nervous to go alone, so I reached out to my closest friend from high school to come with me. When we walked in the door, I realized that we were the only young adults at the event. Overwhelmed, I turned over to my friend and whispered, “Can we please go?” She shook her head and told me, “We came all this way for a reason. Just relax. You got this!” I felt more at ease and focused on putting the skills I learned in Braven into practice. I wasn’t ready to approach a stranger, but I wasn’t ready to leave, so we practiced our elevator pitches together until it was time for the panel to begin.
As the women on the panel began talking, I noticed that the questions were focused on city infrastructure and policies. Unfortunately, my interests lie in business management, human resources, not city infrastructure, so it was a bit hard to follow. Nevertheless, I learned that these strong, intelligent women on the panel are putting in countless hours to ensure the city is getting what it needs and that was inspiring.
Although it was not exactly what I expected, overall I had a positive experience and I’m glad I challenged myself by trying something unfamiliar. In the future, I will find an event that speaks more to my specific career interests. Most importantly, I’ll be less nervous and more prepared the next time around.