Today was fun, and exhausting. We attended a guest lecture delivered by Rob Cullen, business networking expert, in the morning and visited Auxilion, a strategy and tech consulting company in the afternoon.
I really enjoyed Rob Cullen’s presentation on networking. In addition to being informative with regards to networking techniques to implement as we’re all reeling from the pandemic and resuming in person events, it also helped me understand the differences between networking and overall communication styles in Ireland versus the US. Comparing what I’ve been taught at Pitt Business to what Rob Cullen shared with us today, some commonalities I noticed were the emphasis on a firm handshake, establishing a personal brand, being authentic, and cultivating good listening skills. In Pitt Business (especially in the BUS-10 and business communication classes), we were always told to ask the recruiter, interviewer, or any professional that we network with about their interests and background as opposed to delivering an elevator pitch and constantly talking about yourself and your interests. Of course, we network to gain business relationships and contacts that can benefit your career in the long run, but at the end of the day it is important to realize that you are talking to people—people who have their own lives, interests, goals, and things that they are passionate about.
In my previous post, I mentioned how unsettling it was to hear Richie, from the sheep farm, talk about his sheep like they were mere products. Approaching a networking session with the sheer interest of promoting yourself, getting a job, or enhancing your LinkedIn profile dehumanizes whoever you are talking to or networking with, reducing them to a business connection without really acknowledging other aspects of their life and personality. This is what Rob Cullen was also talked about today, and he even went so far to say that talking about your business and your professional endeavours may actually bore your listener and not really appeal to them in a networking session. While I knew that dominating the conversation by just talking about yourself wasn’t recommended, I didn’t think that straying away from business and professional topics were appropriate in that kind of setting. So it was really interesting to learn about the perspective of a professional in a high-context country like Ireland with regards to networking. Although it may be regarded unconventional when I go back to the US, I definitely plan on incorporating Rob’s advice on personalizing my networking conversations beyond the basics and being unafraid to be my authentic self. My best interviews have been ones where my interviewer and I had a fairly personal conversation as opposed to a stricter, structured question-and-answer session.
After the guest lecture delivered by Rob, we went on the site visit to Auxilion. Auxilion, unlike other locations that are a 25-40 min walk from where we live, is a 1.5 hour walk away from our apart-hotel. So we opted to take the bus there, which was slightly better. While the rainy weather paired with nice business casual clothes did not make for a great commuting experience, the snacks and soft drinks offered by Auxilion representatives were worth it (especially the cake!). I expected the presentation to be catered more towards technology and projects that Auxilion was working on, however the presentation was more about the mission, vision, recruitment, and promotional process of the organization. Having glossed over their website prior to this meeting, I didn’t find our site visit to be particularly insightful because most of the presentation content was covered on the website, but it was nice to speak with our presenters and learn about their experiences in the HR department of Auxilion. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s site visit to FoodCloud–as it has been highly regarded and praised by almost every company that we have visited so far!