It bears repeating that in networking, like so much in life, you get out of it how much you put in. Mind you, it also helps to have a gameplan. I came into last month’s networking event with a gameplan. I wanted to gather information on my interests, specially in writing, starting my own business, grad school, and French. I know. Very ambitious. And yes, I am a dreamer. Nonetheless, I received great infromation that night pertaining to my interests which I thought it would be worthwilde to share.
My first stop at the networking event led me to a technical writer at Oracle, one of the largest computer software companies in the world. At the table I sat down and starting talking to our friend at Oracle, we’ll call him Jeff, pestering him with a bunch of questions. However, there were 2 problems. First, the networking session hadn’t started yet. Second, I did not have a notebook and pen. So I retreated back to gather both of those things and begin to write things down.
One of the first things I wrote down and learned from Jeff was that small words really do matter. This really hit me. Especially when looking at this blog. The ideas on what to write as content come out fairly quickly (as evidenced by the number of categories on the home page). But to make everything flow and come out the way I have it in my head to the screen requries editing, which to be honest, I hate.
A big part of editing is about finding the right words, usually the small ones, that make things flow perfectly. Jeff’s job as a technical writer, is all about having the small words in place and being having a good deal of consitency to what you write, the same lay out and look all the time, as key requirements for his job. Thsese two things, paying attention to the small words and being consitent in my writing, are things I definitely want to transfer here at my blog and in other creative writing endeavours…
I have been reading a lot of business books lately. Just finished The Knack, will have a review on it in some point on the blog. I am convinced of 3 major things regarding business, specifically owning your own business. One, it gives you the opportunity to define your career more in your own terms. Instead of your career focssing soley on your day job, you can put time into a business which may be more suited to your true passion and what you want to do. Two, having a business provides a tax benefit. The ability to write things off as business expenses is beneficial to growing your business. Three, and probably most important is having a successful business, gives you control over your freedom. I like to think of myself as a creative person. Being able to use my creativity and talent to provide a service to others for money is awesome. Think Facebook. Zuckerberg is a billionaire because of an idea, being a computer wizard, and being a bit sneaky (if you believe how things played out in The Social Network). Who wouldn’t want to be like that? Those gears for having my own business, that already had been moving, are cranking up a little faster now…
Some people can really sell things well. They are the types of people who are able to make you leave with the product even if you thought it was too expensive in the first place. On my networking evening, this person was one of my communication professors, who did a great sell job on me in regards to grad school. I always had the idea of contiuning my education to further expand my learning as well as to delay “real life” as much as possible. I find school fun, even though this last semester sucked, and the things you can get in school (building new relationships with diverse people, the academic challegenge/grind, and campus life) really make it a unique and well worth life experience to go through.
So with all that in mind, my professor talked a good game. She asked me a question that I would explore in a master’s environment. I answered with the effect that Facebook is having on people in terms of them wanting to do what they saw their friends doing. For example, your friend posts pics on Facebook of a trip to Cuba. Now you think you should go to Cuba since it looked so amazing. She said that is the sort of research question that you could explore and possibly people are exploring, social media and its effects on people. Cool. Grad school. Another avenue to keep open…
Living in Ottawa and working in the government are two things that just seemingly go hand in hand. A third thing that completes this picture is being able to speak French. As a bilingual city, it is a necessity that for many government jobs you can speak French or your going to get screeened out. So at one of the tables I got some really good tips on taking steps on how to learn French.
First, I learned that I should try and emerse myself in the French environment. What that means is to not be shy, ask a lot of questions and try and conversate with French people. Taking it a step further, I do know of people who would go to a French universtiy in the summer to study French or to go to a small town in Quebec and live with a family to learn French. Probably a bit too much for me at this point but perhaps something to consider as a last resort if this tip and these other two don’t work.
Secondly, she said to teach English to a French person. This was interesting. I had to repeat what she said to make sure she actually meant this. I’m figuring that what she meant is by me teaching them a language that they are not familiar with they could in turn teach me a language I’m not familar with, that being French. That would be interesting. Have to test it out.
Thirdly, she told me to watch a movie in which you know the plot well and have seen many times in English, but with French subtitles. By following the conversations of the characters in the movie that you know well in English with theFrench subtitles, your ability to undertand what conversational French is like will improve.
Hopefully you were able to learn a bit from my night of networking. It was a great time and these are the types of events that really complement traditional classroom learning. I’m equipped with useful information that I can actually put into action in hopes of improving myself. I’d call that a successful night of networking, wouldn’t you?