In yesterday’s lecture, our group had the chance to hear from guest lecturer, Rob Cullen. With over 10 years of experience at the Chamber of Commerce as well as recently becoming the Director of Business Development at Noel Group, Rob Cullen has spent a lot of time navigating the business field as well as gaining networking experience with individuals around Dublin, Ireland. As Pitt business students, one of the first things we learn about doing as up-and-coming young professionals is networking with professionals in our field. For me, I found Rob’s lecture on how to do better networking to be quite beneficial and insightful. I hope to take back with me some of his pieces of advice and apply them to my post-graduate search for employment.
One of the first things that Rob talks about is being qualified. Yes, on paper someone can be very qualified for an internship, position, etc. However, this may only get you so far. He explains that networking is key. He takes this a step further by emphasizing “It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows YOU.” He revisits this statement several times throughout his lecture which I found to be very important and has changed my perspective of what exactly is networking. In his lecture, Rob also touches upon some universal best practices for networking. One that was particularly stood out to me is build your own brand. Building your own brand is particularly important as it is what helps you to find other connections. To build your brand, you become your own boss, grow your reputation, and helps you to become known in various network communities. Furthermore, being authentic and true to yourself can go a long way. Your brand can help attract others who can potentially put you in touch with the right people or resources. Again, it’s all about who knows YOU. Other good networking tips include analyzing your network. This may be evaluating on elements such as where are there gaps, is the network too big or small, the breadth or richness of your network, and then going from there to improve your network.
In terms of how networking is different in Ireland compared to the United States, can be related back to one of our previous lectures in terms of low vs. high context. Networking in Ireland can be perceived as more of a higher context than the U.S. In his lecture, Rob mentioned how it was common for back then for Irish lads to meet at a pub or bar and network. The Irish also believe in not overselling oneself as well as helping others to find connections. While the business of someone might not interest you, it may interest someone else that you can help down the line. He also explained how today, networking in Ireland has become more progressive, diversity, inclusion as well as supporting the professional and personal development of women. In the United States, I think we lack some of the personal time to get to know other people/connections. With being much getting straight to the point, low context can come in to play. Working to combine some more of the Irish ways of networking I think could be helpful for me in the future.
In terms of the pandemic, COVID-19 brought about many different effects on the working world but also how we network. Interestingly enough, women’s networking grew during COVID-19 while men’s networking decreased. During the lockdown, women were able to find more time to connect with others virtually. Another positive effect of networking during COVID-19, is made it easier for everyone to connect around the world. With the capabilities of ZOOM, we are able to spend less time commuting to work and meet with people faster. This makes for not only more efficiencies, but also a decrease in expenses such as travel, gas, hotel rooms, etc. Regarding some of the negative impacts COVID-19 had on networking may include the lack of in-person face to face interaction as well as burn out. Often, I found myself burnt out when on ZOOM, so in this regard I think it safe to say others including working professionals experienced the same. Some times there is nothing better than connecting in person over a cup of coffee. With the pandemic, it limited all in-person meetings making human interaction almost obsolete. While using applications such as ZOOM or Microsoft Teams provide immense benefits, the downside can be burn out. As humans, most crave interactions. As a part of networking, those types of interactions are important to not only read the room, but also form a meaningful connection.
After listening to Rob Cullen’s lecture, I found many meaningful pieces of advices that I would like to incorporate into my future network opportunities. First, I would like to work on building my brand or who I am. I think on paper I have my stuff down, but when it comes to making a presence for myself this area is lacking. Another thing that I want to keep in mind for the future is being better at approaching people that I don’t know but are in the industry that I want to potentially work in. Seeing that I am interested in the health care field, I think this could go a long way practicing reaching out and building my connections and network. Lastly, I want to take a closer look at my network and figure out where I can build upon or help others find connections that I may not be utilizing to the full potential but someone else who may find that individual to be of benefit. Overall, I really thought many of the pieces of advice Rob lectured on today will be things I use in my future networking journey!