Republished from the Graduate Student Forum.
Every term the Graduate Studies Officeorganizes events that help graduate student leaders build new skills, the most recent of which was a networking event held on November 21. At the event, the leaders of graduate student-led organizations on campus were given tips on how to be successful during networking events. Assistant Dean of Graduate Student Affairs Kerry Landers hosted the evening, and Graduate Studies Dean Jon Kull and Assistant Dean of Recruiting and Diversity Jane Seibel were also in attendance and offered their advice and insights as well.
Landers explained to the students that even though networking events often include food, the refreshments should not become a distraction to the networking task at hand. It is important to learn how to “juggle” the plate, food, and beverage glass at the same time. Seibel demonstrated this by holding the drink and plate in the left hand and leaving the right hand ready for a handshake. Both Seibel and Landers stressed the importance of a firm (but not too firm) handshake at networking functions.
Kull, Landers, and Seibel also emphasized the importance of knowing what kind of networking event one is attending prior to going. This is essential for dressing appropriately and knowing what to expect and who else will attend. Another key piece of advice that Landers gave was to turn off cell phones or put them on silent during networking events. Texting or surfing the web on a phone during a networking event can give others the impression that one is not engaged or interested.
After learning from the pros, the students then exercised their newly-acquired networking skills in small groups by introducing themselves to each other and to Seibel, Landers, and Kull. The students practiced two different situations: talking about non-research topics and describing their research to their colleagues.
Graduate leaders appreciated the opportunity to prepare and practice for professional networking events. For future professional development events, be sure to check out the events calendar on the Graduate Studies website.
by Gilbert Rahme