Last year, our marketing intern Keeran Sritharan from the University of Canberra shared his thoughts on networking for the first time! Read about how he conquered his fears and worked the room.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and the entrepreneurs of Canberra come out of their coffee-fuelled hiding and all the innovative minds come buzzing together, under one roof. First Wednesday Connect (FWC), is a monthly get-together for creative business people, innovators and entrepreneurs, to energise, share stories and encourage collaboration. The budding entrepreneurs of Canberra pitch their innovative ideas in a high intensity 60 second pitch and you get the chance to network, mingle and meet some amazing people over drinks and nibbles.

It was my first time at a FWC and after working as a marketing intern at the Canberra Innovation Network for 5 months, I thought it was time I stepped out of my comfort zone and conquered my fears of networking.

As a soon-to-be University of Canberra graduate (hopefully), networking will play a huge role in my career prospects. It could help start my own business, help me climb the career hierarchy, meet prospective clients, employers or partners, and most importantly, could lead to lifelong relationships. It would ultimately launch my career but also unlock a competitive edge at every stage. But, why did I dread it so much? Why did it seem so daunting and confronting? Well, you have to essentially step out of your comfort zone, be a little awkward and put yourself out there. It’s not exactly an easy task…

FWC starts off with some light networking over some delicious nibbles and drinks, pitching from inspiring entrepreneurs and more networking to end the night. At first, I struggled to network and just hung around people I was familiar with and food, as it served as a great distraction to actually doing what I came to do, meeting new people (food networking is a thing, right?).

Time was ticking, and I had to conquer my fears of awkwardness and rejection, and relinquish my introversion. As I circled the beautifully placed food platters one last time, I took the leap of faith and jumped into a group of unfamiliar faces. I started the conversation and was surprised at how it flowed and interest continued to grow. I made my first network (queue cheering)! I met someone amazing, I wasn’t awkward and didn’t embarrass myself. I then went off and met someone else, and then again and again… As I progressed through the night, I felt more confident, at ease and comfortable. I found it exhilarating to be able to genuinely connect with like-minded people, that were so incredibly nice and where I could just let the conversation flow naturally.

No, it wasn’t that hard to network. No, it wasn’t awkward. No, I didn’t get rejected. And no, it wasn’t that scary. It was actually incredibly fun and being in a room full of creatives and entrepreneurs just oozed off such an energetic and positive vibe, which only further enhanced the experience of FWC.

So, get out there, push yourself, step out of your comfort zone and network at FWC, because trust me, it’s not that hard as it seems. See you at the next FWC, you know where I’ll be (near the food).

My tips:

  • Smile and be confident!
  • Start off the night with someone you might know, warm-up and get those networking juices flowing.
  • Jump in a circle, smile and introduce yourself (trust me, they’re not going to ignore you)
  • Set a target for the night. Aim to meet 5 people, and achieving that will give you the motivational boost to meet even more.
  • Remember to thank them for their time, as you fly away to meet more.
  • If you’re not feeling a conversation, politely jump out, refuel yourself with some food and go back out there.
  • Bring a friend! If you really struggle with networking, meeting groups of people can always be a little easier with a friend by your side. You could also split up, network and regroup every so often – it acts as a good recharge!
  • Have your business card, LinkedIn or social media ready, so that you can connect and develop this relationship over an email, phone call or message.

To register for First Wednesday Connect visit our Events Page.

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