Five Tips for Making Networking Fun – and Productive

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By Susie Rantz

Finding a job can be an intimidating, challenging, and frustrating process. There are a million job boards to sift through and resumes and cover letters to customize. How do you stand out in a sea of other job applicants?

The best way to find these opportunities is by connecting with people around you. Your network of friends, relatives, and new acquaintances can be one of the most valuable job search resources. Networking can sound intimidating, but it can also be rewarding and fun—even if, like me, you shudder at the thought of approaching people you don’t know. The very idea of attending one more networking event gets my stomach churning, my palms sweating, and my throat tightening.

So how can you ensure networking advances your job ambitions and is more fun than a chore?

Type “job networking tips” into your favorite search engine and you’ll find a ton of great ideas. I don’t want to duplicate this heap of expert advice. Instead, I invite you to join me in thinking outside the box about job networking. Here are five tips for making the experience fun—and productive!

1. Go where you feel comfortable

There are a lot of career-focused networking events, and those intimidate me the most. Talk about high stakes! Hobby or skill-based groups can be a great alternative. One friend found multiple job opportunities while attending a meetup group for a game-development program he was using for fun. He worked in construction at the time—nothing remotely close to computer programming. In addition, I once attended a casual event for Seattle Sounders fans, and while I wasn’t searching for a job, I had multiple opportunities to talk about my work and skills. Yes, this happened at a soccer meetup, where I felt comfortable and the career stakes were low.

2. Find ways to help others

Networking is a two-way street; it is not just about asking for favors. Your side of the street should focus on helping others. This help can be as big as volunteering regularly for a cause you love, or as small as offering to babysit for a friend. As fellow GeekGirlCon staff member Laurel McJannet put it, “Do good work with people who share your values, and they’ll remember you or be a reference for you when a job opening comes up.” Another friend found a job in her desired career field as a direct result of her volunteer experience with GeekGirlCon.

3. Be the connector

Another form of giving is introducing people. Find ways to introduce friends, colleagues, and acquaintances with one another. Do you have a friend and a coworker who both like to brew their own beer? Offer to introduce them. This makes you a valuable connector and invites others to do the same for you—providing an opportunity to expand your network. One friend started a blog about Pittsburgh, focused on connecting people and businesses across the city, and said the experience was not only a great networking tool, it also helped her gain confidence in talking to people.

4. Don’t discount those chance encounters

I am an introvert, and the idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger terrifies me. But I have talked to more people than I can count on my hands and feet whose job opportunities came as a result of random conversations with a stranger. One friend told me she was offered an interview and was eventually hired by the guy sitting next to her on an airplane. They were both coming back from a major industry conference, and the plane was filled with other techies. Be open to putting yourself out there when you least expect it.

5. Attend GeekGirlCon 14

Our annual convention provides one of the best opportunities to meet career mentors or get job leads—especially if you are looking to enter a career field where women are underrepresented. Our Connections Room will feature booths from some of the leading technology, video game, nonprofit, and science companies. We will also host networking hours throughout the convention focused on specific career interests, and we’ll have a Connections programming room for panels, workshops, and Q&A sessions focused on education opportunities and leadership and career development.

These are five tips that can help enhance your networking experience. What other tips would you offer? Please share them below!


Susie Rantz is the Manager of Connections, a GeekGirlCon program focused on providing career mentorship, leadership development, and networking opportunities for women and girls

Guest Contributor
“Rock On!”

Get Connected at GeekGirlCon ’13

GGConnections_blogBannerWritten by GeekGirlConnections Manager Terra Olsen

GeekGirlConnections is thrilled to host an impressive lineup of professionals at this year’s GeekGirlCon! Join us for these interactive and intimate panels, and be prepared to learn from the best. Come with questions, your portfolio, and your resume, as these panels are designed to be Q&A friendly.

Here are just a few of the amazing people and panels the Connection Room will be hosting:

Join Carly Kocurek (Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and Media Studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology), Corrinne Yu (game programmer for Halo 4), and Meg Stivison (game writer and content designer) on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. for “The Past, Present, and Future of Women in Gaming.” These women are all experts in the field and come from diverse backgrounds. Come hear their thoughts and discover what’s next in the gaming world.

Interested in learning how to build your brand on a small budget? Join Emma Mcilroy on Saturday at 12:30 to learn from the best about “How to Build a Kick-Ass Brand on a Start-Up Budget.” Emma is the the co-founder and CEO of Wildfang, a new clothing company started in early 2013 out of Portland that already has quite the following—over 10,000 on Instagram and Facebook to be exact, and you might have seen this Buzzfeed article on the company.

Join Lisa Granshaw, a full-time freelance writer based in NYC, to learn about “Breaking into the Media Industry.” Her work has appeared in The Daily Dot, TODAY.com, Blastr, Career Girl Network, and many more. She is excited to help young professionals seeking advice in media and communications, so make sure to catch her on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

SCIENCE! Don’t miss the “Careers in Science” panel on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Join Dr. Nicole Gugliucci (astronomer, educator, and writer), Dr. Jerry Nguyen (neuroscientist, consultant, stay-at-home dad, and financial analyst), Morgan Woroner (social media manager for many NASA education initiatives), and Dr. Stephen Granade (physicist and educator) as they explore the many career paths available in science. Science lovers! Don’t miss out.

AND MANY MORE!

Don’t miss a minute—buy your passes now!

Adrienne Roehrich
“Rock On!”

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