During the second semester of my first year at SFU, I attended my first ever networking event. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I was ecstatic to see what the business world really was all about. Shortly after arriving at the event, I realized that not only was I severely underdressed, I also had no idea how to introduce myself and was unable to actually comprehend the business lingo that I so eagerly memorized before dashing out the door. I felt unprepared, to say the least, and every interaction chipped away at my confidence as I became vividly aware of how ridiculously unprepared I was for the world beyond the walls of SFU. It was a rookie mistake but it is an experience many business students may resonate with and cringe at the young Nicole. With this short blog post, I hope that you would not make the same mistakes as I did but also understand the importance of personal branding.
In 15 seconds, the person standing opposite you will already have determined whether they like you. As daunting as it is, in those crucial 15 seconds, it is important to make a good impression with a broad smile, confidence, and a strong pitch about yourself that illustrates your skills and ambitions. As a part of the Introduction to Marketing course, taught by Professor Jason Ho, we were assigned to complete a personal branding assignment which included a segmentation, targeting & positioning project amongst other students alike and to attend two mock networking events. The two mock networking events were hosted by the Beedie Career Management Center and over 30 industry professionals were invited to network with students in the said class and were graded on how well reciprocated our personal branding pitch was. As a seasoned business student, you would expect that I would breeze through the event without a problem. Unfortunately, I arrived at the first event shaking, flabbergasted, and, quite frankly, sweating through my suit. I felt like that first year again, deer in headlights, terrified of the professionals but this time I was armed with the big PB – Personal Branding. With the activity Professor Ho assigned, I learnt more about my skills, strengths and motivations and how I could fine tune my message in a short elevator pitch. Because the mock networking event was a safe place to explore, I felt comfortable to dive into my first conversation with a professional and build a meaningful connection. The mock networking event was a simulation of a real networking event but without the pressure and with the kind guidance of Professor Ho’s assignment, I, along with other students, could showcase ourselves at our best light and receive feedback on future improvements.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunities the CMC has provided and would suggest any Beedie student, seasoned or not, to attend one. The feedback from the professionals was incomparable to anything of its kind and the practical and realistic skill attained through events, like the ones mentioned, should be honed by all students to stand out in a room full of black, navy, and grey suits.
Nicole is a 4th year Business Administration student concentrating in Marketing and Management Information Systems and believes there is no ceiling in learning and challenging herself to be more. She is an avid member of the Beedie community and has been in student leadership for over two years. Her involvement at the Beedie School of Business include, but is not limited to, competing as an academic competitor at Jeux du Commerce West 2017 and is currently in the Beedie Ambassador Cohort 2016/2017.