Networking 101: You walk into a room of environmental professionals, ready to make some connections. Suddenly, anxiety gets the best of you. Who are you going to talk to? What are you going to say?
For many professionals, networking is not easy, and can be downright nerve-racking; however, the societal drive to make new links is ever increasing. With entire industries dedicated to the business of networking, from trade shows and events (like the annual Environmental Professional Events Series) to social media platforms, such as Linkedin, finding a networking comfort zone is becoming essential for success.
ECO Canada members, Benny Liang and Remi Daviet, recognize the value of networking, but say inexperience and self-conscious fears can get in the way.
“In the past, I was lacking the level of confidence I have today, and thus couldn’t keep the momentum moving in my communications. I was hesitating on which sentence or word to use, and what to say or not to say,” says Daviet.
Canadian Marketing & Sales Manager for ERA Environmental, Daviet uses face-to-face networking extensively to raise awareness about the company, and credits his current position to his success in making connections. “Networking is what drives our company. The scientific and software departments are in charge of developing a great product, but it’s the networking efforts driving sales.”
Daviet says listening carefully to people and practice helped build the networking confidence he has today. “When I understood more what someone asked, my answers were easier to come by. This allowed me to structure my communications more naturally.”
Liang, a recent graduate from Niagara College, felt uncomfortable trying to ‘fit’ into a conversation with large groups of people, but overcame his fears by becoming a volunteer at a professional conference. “The opportunity provided face time with people; I am much more comfortable physically helping, or providing a service to others.”
He adds, “Networking is part of developing your career and your life. When you know and help more people, then more people can help you when you need it.”
In terms of networking best practices, Daviet’s strategy is to, “Think and plan before when you attend an event, and know what you are looking for and how to get there. If you anticipate where conversations may go, you have less chances of being caught unprepared.”
Liang views networking as making acquaintances and friends. “People attend to meet others, including you!” He offers advice, “Believe you are valuable and have something important to offer. Often young graduates feel they’re unimportant compared to seasoned professionals; however, we all have interesting stories to share.”
Looking for upcoming networking opportunities? Check out ECO Canada’s EP Event Series, and become more involved with the environmental community. ECO Canada also keeps a calendar of Industry Events across Canada. Hope to see you there!
Did we miss any tips? Tell us your thoughts about networking, or about an experience at your favorite environmental event.