The key to good networking is to not only show up and speak up, but to also have a few ideas about how you can serve the other person. Master networker, international speaker and best-selling author Keith Ferrazzi called those acts of care “five packets of generosity.”
“Everything you want to achieve—every job, every volunteer opportunity and every interaction—depends on other people,” Ferrazzi told more than 175 people, mostly graduate business students, attending a day-long conference at Texas A&M University. The “Relationships for Career Success” conference was sponsored by Mays Business School’s Graduate Business Career Services. “It is worth it to invest time in building a more purposeful people plan.”
Ferrazzi asserted in his keynote speech that relationship style isn’t about being big. “It isn’t about bounding into a room, it’s about being authentic and caring about the other person,” he said. He advised that each of us meet people where they are and mirror their social styles to help them feel comfortable. “The people with better social capital get better jobs more quickly. Managers are better leaders and sales people get better sales.”
Ferrazzi is widely published; his book “Never Eat Alone” has been a bestseller since 2005, and “Who’s Got Your Back” is based on accountability groups.
After conference attendees heard from Ferrazzi, they practiced what they learned, starting with a short networking warmup during the break. After lunch, students initiated conversations with recruiters in 10-minute speed-networking sessions, then were critiqued on their ability to do so. They also visited the nine corporate booths that were set up along the perimeter of the room.
Event organizer Cindy Billington, associate director of MBA Career Education at Mays, patterned the event after a professional conference, and scheduled it in the middle of recruiting season. She met Ferrazzi several years ago, when Texas A&M was the first campus to benefit from a training program for college students offered by Ferrazzi’s research institute.
During a panel discussion following Ferrazzi’s remarks, leaders from five companies gave advice and fielded questions. Matthieu Tagnon, director of Essilor Lenses, a long-time recruiter of Mays graduates, summarized the advice of all the panelists. “Don’t hesitate to take risks, but stay true to yourself,” he said. “If you are fake, we will see it and we will smell it. Don’t overdo it.”