Why is Networking Such a Scary Word?

From Celine Chen

Learning how to connect with other professionals and build a network. 

The term networking seems to really throw people off, especially when they are just starting their career journey. We know it’s an important part of professional development, but so many people don’t know how to do it. How do you meet other professionals? Who should you talk to? How do you get them to join your network?

Earlier this month I had the incredible opportunity to attend a “Professional Development Tips” workshop led by a Bryn Mawr alumna, Lynda Pak ‘90, who currently works as the Vice President of Strategic Business for the Estee Lauder Companies North America division. Before the workshop Lynda was kind enough to be available for a group lunch, where we could get to know her and ask questions about her experience in a casual setting. She shared her experience coming into Bryn Mawr as a pre-health student, then ending up in consulting where she developed a lot of technology training. Lynda was open about her experience in consulting and how she has made many pivots in her career after exploring different paths and trying to find which worked best for her. It was great to hear how it is perfectly fine to change careers throughout your life. Lyndas career took her different directions before she made her way to her current position as an executive in technology. 

Lynda Pak ’90 and students at a LILAC event on networking. Photo courtesy of @brynmawrcollegelilac

Lynda mentioned many general tips for networking and interviewing, but she also provided a lot of answers to tough questions like “how can you maintain contact with people you meet?” 

Whenever a career advisor talks about networking, a key point they bring up is the need to keep up with your connections. Lynda’s answer to that question was: Contact them if you read an article about their company/makes you think about them. This shows that you are knowledgeable about the company, what they do, and are interested in staying up to date on the latest news within the industry. This also keeps you in the forefront of their mind as a thoughtful candidate for future jobs. Lynda made a point to mention that a lot of the time job board positions are only posted if there was no one within individuals’ immediate network that fit the role. In other words, if you stay at the forefront of people’s minds, you have a better chance of hearing about open positions first. 

Make the First Move. At Bryn Mawr, the goal is to empower students to become strong, independent, and thoughtful individuals. However, there is certainly a history of women not making the first move out of fear of being overaggressive or imposing on others. Women are still less likely to negotiate their salary or ask for a raise. Hearing Lynda talk about the importance of making the first move was so reaffirming of the importance to do so. You really stand out as an individual when you make the first move. This kind of attitude has always been a theme throughout college life at Bryn Mawr, but I love how events like this drive the concept home even more. 

A lot of one’s experience at college is what you make of it. You can choose to go to class, you can choose to attend career events, and you can choose to sign up for clubs. What I really value about being in college is that so many campus-wide organizations take the time and energy to create these sorts of events. Then it’s up to you whether or not you want to capitalize on them. This opportunity to meet Lynda was so valuable because it allowed me to expand my network and learn a lot of insider tips on how to “hack” networking and interviewing. It was also inspiring to see and hear about the career path of an alum, knowing that it’s possible to come from Bryn Mawr and accomplish something similar.  


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