Students can hone networking skills Oct. 24

Does the thought of conversing with people you don’t know cause you to cringe? Would you rather scrub the kitchen floor than participate in networking? If so, you might have the wrong idea about networking.

“The biggest thing with networking is redefining what it means,” says central Iowa author and speaker Danny Beyer. “It isn’t a separate event you sign up for. It’s really just exchanging ideas.”

It’s also a necessity in today’s world. According to the Harvard Business Review, “a mountain of research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction.”

These all are great reasons to attend Beyer’s networking presentation and workshop at DMU on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 5:30 p.m. in Lecture Hall 3 of the Academic Center, hosted by the DMU Health Leaders Club. The author of The Ties that Bind, Beyer says that as human beings, “we’re networking all the time, and we’re really good at it.” The mistake we often make, however, is asking a new acquaintance about his/her job.

“Forcing people to talk about work is really boring,” he says. “Instead, ask better questions: What are you passionate about? What do you do for fun? What’s your story?”

Beyer says it’s never been easier to network given all our technology avenues. In 2016, he challenged himself to every week invite one of his LinkedIn contacts whom he didn’t know very well for coffee. “Every single person I contacted said ‘Sure,’” he says. “I had 52 appointments that year I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Beyer advises people to “network when you don’t need anything” as a way to build long-term relationships. “That way, when you do need need that job, you’ll have a base and foundation in place,” he says.

He also encourages students to attend his networking event at DMU. “Come with an open mind,” he says. “It’s not going to be intimidating. It will be a lot of fun.”