Day 9: Be Interested, Not Interesting

We began our morning today with a guest speaker, Rob Cullen, who discussed networking in Ireland. In America, we are instructed to attend networking events in an almost robotic sense: dress professionally, bring several copies of your resume and perfect your elevator pitch. We are told to come with pre-prepared questions for the recruiters about the position or the company as a whole. I had expected Rob Cullen to cover this same checklist, but he had a checklist of his own. From the way he described networking, it sounded a lot more casual and social rather than formal and professional. He did express the importance of dressing nicely and making a good first impression, which aligned with what we have been told in Pitt Business courses. What Rob said next was new for me. He told us to look for similar interests outside of business that we could use to connect with people, such as sports, music or hobbies. This, he says, is what will make them remember you. Many students ask the same questions about internship applications, company culture and similar things. This does not make you distinct in the memories of those you meet at networking events. Discovering a shared interest will however, set you apart from the rest. Furthermore, showing this more personal side of you as opposed to your professional side will make more of an impact. This is quite opposite to what I have been told before and I enjoyed hearing another perspective on networking.

Another thing that Rob said also stuck with me: be interested, not interesting. In the states, we are trained to sell ourselves via our elevator pitch. We are taught to share as much as we can about ourselves and our accomplishments with any recruiter that we come across. Rob says that we should do the opposite. Rather than paint ourselves as interesting to the recruiter we should appear very interested in what they are saying about themselves. In other words, we should be listening more than talking, which is not exactly how I perceived networking before.

In the afternoon, we visited Auxilion, an IT services company headquartered in Dublin. Again, I had expected the company to be driven by technology but was surprised to find that our speakers credited the company’s success to its people and not its softwares. They were very insistent that their people were the most integral part of Auxilion. In a post-pandemic world, they also expressed the importance of meeting the employees needs as less and less people are applying to jobs. They even mentioned holding a few surveys and case studies to better fulfill employee expectations. This suggests a role reversal in the future, where businesses may have to compete for employees as opposed to applicants competing for one position. Overall, it seems as though networking will become a bit more dependent on the business than the candidate. Moving forward I will try to be more interested in what the recruiters have to share and a little less focused on making myself sound interesting.

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