Networking and job interviews can be nerve-wracking. I attended an event recently that was akin to speed-networking. While it may have worked for some, it was most certainly not my cup of java. I need more than a few seconds (five to be exact) to do a brief exchange of names and enterprises. I'm sure the quick handing of business cards back-and-forth can lead to bigger and better things later on but if I'm going to make a connection it needs to be on the first encounter. I did make one valuable contact but it was done by way of a friend's introduction. She looked back and helped me step up.
My daughter is a recent college grad. After getting a degree in education she has decided not to teach. She's felt a bit lost and quite discouraged. Discovering last minute that her alma mater was hosting a career fair, I convinced her to attend. I was eligible to participate as well because I'm also alum. Road trip!
As we entered the conference center we saw young men and women looking like they were about to face a firing squad. They were dressed in grown up attire, carrying brief cases or stacks of resumes; some visibly trembling. My daughter had a few anxious moments but I reminded her we were only there to browse and see what it was like. No agenda. No fear!
I walked up to the woman at the first booth inside the door and began chatting. I asked how she liked the event so far and what positions she was recruiting for. I explained why I was there and introduced her to my daughter, then walked away so they could visit. I continued on ahead and we repeated this exercise a couple more times. I learned so much about those recruiters and did my best to encourage them. Some were almost as nervous as the prospecting students. Some were bored and tired. I joked and chatted and found that many were happy for someone to just visit with. My daughter soon took the same approach and started casually visiting and engaging recruiters in conversation without my introduction.
Kimberly and I had more fun than if we'd been at Disneyland.We laughed and made new friends as we covered that entire room. She was invited to sit down and meet with a lead advisor in the graduate program, which resulted in more inspiration and encouragement.
As we left, overwhelmed and exhausted, we marveled at the number of employers who practically hired her on the spot. Learning that her degree is desirable in many fields and that her experience and personality make her a valuable asset was just the boost she needed.
My daughter glowed all the way home. She admitted it may have been different if I hadn't begun the adventure by going before her; providing a little opening to help her get her bearings and gain confidence.There are times and occasions when we all need someone to go before us and make the way a little easier. Are you looking back to see who is on the path further behind? Are you offering to give them a hand to move forward? Did someone clear a path for you? Comment here.