Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

Networking expert tells residents to take full advantage of College

Jen Harwood receiving the vote of thanks from a fellow Warrane resident

When Jen Harwood spoke at Warrane, the author, international motivational speaker and networking expert told residents they were in an ideal place to begin the lifelong challenge of networking.

Pointing out that she had learned how to deal with people at a university college, she said it was important to take advantage of all the opportunities that the College offered by connecting with other residents, old boys and College guests.

“A lot of people are useless when they come into the workforce because they don’t know how to work with people,” she said.

“In college you have networking on steroids. Most students won’t learn how to network until they get out there, but if you master it while in college you will be way ahead.

“It comes down to a handshake, it comes down to eye contact, it comes down to saying something.”

Speaking on 4 June 2014, Ms Harwood drew from her two books – The Art of Networking – a practical guide to personal networking and self-promotion and How to get the Job U Want – a practical guide to job hunting using networks.

She pointed out that her own career had little to do with the geology she studied at university, but everything to do with what she learned about dealing with people, relating to people and working with people.

“Everything I learnt then I have had a ten-fold – a hundred-fold return on because I learned how the world works. This is what you guys have got.”

Among her networking tips were:

Get clear in your mind what you really want to do in life and then start networking to make it happen;
Get moving on networking straight away even if you are still only a student;
Practice remembering people’s names;
Never discriminate against anyone because they do not seem to be useful. (“My grandmother, Polly, is the most well read person on the planet and she goes on walking groups with supreme court judges wives, but some people would just see an old person who is not up with the latest fashion.”);
Join the Linked-In professional networking site, build a profile and write up every experience and achievement;
Always carry business cards, even if it is necessary to make them yourself.

She said it was important to engage with people by asking them personal questions like: “What is the best thing that has happened to you today?”

“Whatever their reply, go with it,” she said. “It works incredibly well if you don’t know what to say. It connects you to someone and they will think of you as a good person, someone who is easy to be around. They will remember you as someone positive who makes a contribution and they will actually think you are really smart.

“Try doing it for practice when you go shopping.”

Ms Harwood said when “working a room” at a networking event it was important to seek out quality people and make a quality connection with them, rather than simply moving around and collecting business cards.

It was also important to make a point of helping people who are new to an organisation by engaging them in conversation and helping them to meet other people.

“Ask them if there is any particular group they want to talk to,” she said. “Help them get into the conversation and then check back with later to see how they have gone and whether you can help them any further.

“When you go into the corporate world and business world, if you know how to do that people are going to know you, like you, trust you because you understand the principles of meeting people and moving around the room.”

In cases where someone had forgotten the name of a person they had met previously, Ms Harwood recommended going up to the person and saying: “We have met before. Great to see you again. And your name is?”

“People will value you remembering them rather than remembering their name,” she said.

During the question-and-answer session, Ms Harwood encouraged residents to help other people simply because it is the right thing to do, rather than seeking to gain an advantage for themselves.

“You find that in a lot of cases the people who are making it to the top are the people who are giving because it is the right thing to do,” she said. “They are giving because they can.

“If you think I am going to give so I can get, it doesn’t work and it doesn’t last. People know when giving is laced with an agenda.

“If you are at a networking event and you know that Patrick and Matt could talk to each other and do some good things together then introduce them because that is good for them. People remember who made that connection.”

[Warrane College offers more than just accommodation to students at UNSW: List of the annual Bevan Corbett award winners can be viewed here]