Networking: The art not being awkward

October 31, 2012

In Washington, DC what you know is important; however, it is whom you know that will open doors. Networking is vital in an environment where every handshake can lead to endless possibilities.

The Running Start Fellowship is definitely providing me with the skills to establish a strong network. Networking is how I became affiliated with Running Start to begin with. A friend of a professor I worked closely with sent her information about Running Start that my professor in turn passed to me. Needless to say, I understood the importance of networking prior to becoming a fellow. However, I lacked the skills to network effectively.

My first networking opportunity came during the first week of the fellowship. At the event, the other fellows and I mingled with Capital Hill staff and interns.

And by “mingle,” I mean that I walked around awkwardly for two hours.

I wasn’t sure how to engage anyone because it seemed that everyone knew each other, and if that were the case, would they be offended if I injected myself into their conversation? It was a wonderful experience, but I didn’t maximize the opportunity.

The event was on Wednesday; that Friday we had our first seminar, with Tessi and Catherine as guest speakers. Each woman provided valuable insight to working on the Hill and advice on networking was a large part of what they discussed. Speakers at subsequent seminars also reinforced the importance of networking and building relationships. Many of the speakers got their start as interns on the Hill or on a Congressional or Presidential campaign, but it was the relationships they built during that time that got each woman to the positions they currently hold.

Though I have not mastered the art of networking and I have so much more to learn, I am more confident and assertive in my ability to navigate the social facet of DC.

Tamia Kyana Haygood, Star Fellow Fall 2012

One response to “Networking: The art not being awkward”

  1. Tamia,

    When I first started my leadership journey, I felt the same exact way about networking until I began to realize “Hey, they are normal people just like you and I!” 90% of the people I’ve had the honor to network with once been in my same exact shoes once upon time. They understand the anxiety and nervousness. Another thing that I often do is try to find something I can relate with others on. Such as sharing the same State, coming from their hometown University, or having an interest in their hobbies. It’s always great to just listen as others talk about themselves and who they are. You learn so much!

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