Before starting my summer with the MSBA, the one skill I had already resolved to improve upon was my networking abilities. I’ve never been particularly good at juggling all sorts of contacts, staying in touch with people, or actively seeking out individuals I knew could help me get where I wanted to go.
With all the people I was going to meet over the summer, whether through my job, the various speakers, or my fellow MSBA class members, I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to finally start making an effort to be better at networking.
At the start of our 4th week (can’t believe it’s going so quickly) we got a lesson in networking from the man himself, Ben Sturner, the Founder of Leverage Agency and the MSBA. Ben invited the whole MSBA crew down to Leverage and gave us a presentation on some of the finer points of networking. When Ben showed us his binders full of business cards from various industry leaders, it was clear that he knows a thing or two about making connections and utilizing them to their fullest potential.
The biggest thing that I took away from Ben’s presentation, which covered topics from researching someone before meeting them to avoiding becoming the person at a conference that people can’t stand, was the networking is not just some activity that you do every once in awhile. It is a constant activity, with opportunities springing up all the time.
You have to be able to keep an eye out for your chance to connect with and make an impression upon someone. Ben talked about having an “elevator pitch” ready at all times. He meant that, given just 30 seconds or so, would you be able to pitch who you are and leave a good impression on someone? It was a level of preparation and anticipation that I hadn’t even thought of; I now realize that it takes that level of dedication to succeed and stand out from the clutter.
Finally, I liked the fact that Ben told us to stay away from treating networking like some cold exercise. He urged us to be genuinely interested in people and to take the time to build a real relationship. All in all it was a lot of great information and tips for how I can get the most out of my MSBA experience. I’m excited to expand my horizons using all the connections I make this summer through networking.