Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, and breathe. I made it to the first event of this life changing experience that will hopefully mould me into a professional public relations practitioner, and I was dressed for success. From applying to the program, to being accepted, and enrolled, I had officially become an Algonquin College Public Relations student.
The second year students of the program had planned a welcome party for all first-year students. I was attending my first networking event, one of the many I will experience throughout my academic time here. The one thing I learned from my first networking experience is to never attend a networking event without confidence.
Not only did I feel the pressure of making a good impression, but I also feared falling over in my new black wedges that only added to my never-ending nerves. I have been to networking events before, however, this experience was different.
The event’s organizers prepared team-building exercises to encourage conversations between first and second-year students. I was nervous and did not know what to say. But what was I afraid of? Many of these students were just like me. I had to overcome my anxiety because it was overshadowing my personality and motivation to be successful in public relations. Deep down, I was a confident public relations professional waiting to be released.
Overwhelmed by my nerves, I took a deep breath; I mean it can’t be that hard. Taking Lee’s advice, I focused on my behaviour rather than the negative thoughts, or the negative feelings I was experiencing. Rather, I began focusing on walking slowly, and approaching new people, which helped create positive thoughts and feelings.
Throughout the course of the evening, I spoke to five second-year students from the program. We discussed everything from program specifics, professors, job aspirations, to our favourite bands. I may have made some careless networking errors such as, standing too close to the food table, or giving a loose handshake, however, there is no greater way of learning how to network correctly than by making these mistakes.
After I got over the initial shock of attending the first networking event of the school year, I was able to speak with my peers and professors without being concerned about the way I was standing or, if I was making a positive impression. To gain the most out of a networking event, you need to be willing to get involved and participate. Most professional events will not prepare games or exercises to include everyone. It will be up to you to actively seek out professionals and network. If you are held down by nerves and lack of confidence, you may not gain the full benefit of the networking experience.
If you are preparing for your first networking experience, take my advice, and walk in with confidence. If it makes it easier, wear flats instead of high-heels.