Networking? Sounds Boring

By Will (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Entrepreneurship and Management)

When people say the word ‘networking’ an image of important business people talking usually springs to mind. I think most people view networking as a process that has zero fun and is purely to make connections that could be useful one day, when you want to call in a favour. This is an outdated view. Networking is incredibly important and university is an absolute gold mine, as there are so many people from different backgrounds with different skills.

Networking doesn’t just mean talking to people that you think have important knowledge that you could draw on one day. Nor is it a process where you set out goals or parameters as to who to talk to and who to avoid.

Networking is natural, we all do it in everyday life whether introverted or extroverted, everyone networks daily. University nurtures many different friendship groups, from flatmates to course mates and society mates. I would advise anyone coming to university to take advantage of this and network with as many people from different places as possible. I personally have developed networks with people from so many backgrounds, with sports persons, entrepreneurs, local politicians and experts in just about every academic field. Akin to these people being incredibly interesting and enriching to have a coffee and chat with, they have proved invaluable to my university career. If I didn’t know many of the entrepreneurs that I currently do, I would never have been able to gain the advice and expertise to help set up my own business within university alongside my studies.

It can always seem too easy to not go to that sports trial or avoid that marketing event with an influential speaker. Its not always that easy to get out there and meet new people while sometimes divulging information about yourself to people you barely know. However, every time you miss that event or decline that invitation to a party or social, you’re limiting the opportunities that university can afford you.

Networking isn’t just for extroverts and people who like talking, it’s for people who want to seize the chance they’ve been given and make the most of life. The more networking someone does the more connected they become, and I can say from experience that the more random opportunities start to pop up, which most people weren’t even aware existed.

The point of this blog was never intended to scare you into going to everything on university campus, because no one has time for all that and as always studying must come first. However next time the opportunity arises to meet someone new or go to a new environment, consider not what might be bad about it or how much time you’ll have to do other stuff if you don’t go. But what could I be missing, what advice and new characters might I hear about, but never be able to experience again, because who knows what the future holds?

So, don’t hold back don’t regret what could have been, but learn from experience and it is true that people make the world go around, so get out there and meet as many interesting ones as you can.

Presenting like a pro

by Maria (Student Blogger: MSc Management) 

Assignments and projects are a big part of studying towards your degree, and many of them end with an event that is dreaded by many students – presentations. It is understandable that presenting in front of your professors and peers can be intimidating, especially for freshers that aren’t used to doing it. If you are anything like me, public speaking isn’t something that comes naturally to you, however this doesn’t mean that you can’t learn how to ace a presentation.

Presentations became a big part of my life once I started my undergrad. Suddenly, I had to go from presenting a few times a year to 2-3 times per week! As someone who is a bit shy and introverted, you can imagine I wasn’t too excited about this, still it was something I had to do.

Here are my “key pieces of wisdom” I have gathered during the last five years:

Get to know the topic well
During a presentation, professors will try to challenge your arguments and ask questions about the topic. It can sometimes be seen as a bit “cruel”, but they check how well you know the topic by assessing how you react to unexpected questions. The more you know about the topic you are presenting, the more confident you feel about what you are saying. The confidence you have about the topic will make you feel more at ease when talking about it.

Change your mind-set on presenting
Presentations aren’t something that you will only use in the classroom and then forget about. It’s true what are teachers and professors have been saying our entire lives – you will have to present in the workplace. And trust me, it’s much easier and a lot less risky to present to a professor than to your boss or your clients. However, no program will have a separate module where they teach you how to present. The only way to master this skill is to utilize the opportunities you are given throughout your courses. Think of these presentation days as a free workshop you are getting on how to present. In the classroom, you can always ask for feedback from your professor or your peers on how to improve on your presentation skills. It’s a luxury that many do not have once they start working, so take advantage of it and try to get in as much practice as you can before you graduate.

Time Keeping & Rehearsing
Although it may seem obvious, time-keeping is especially important in these situations, and not only for grading purposes. It happens quite often that your presentation is taking a lot longer than you thought, and this can lead to a state of panic. Instead of just going through the key points, when we are running out of time, we all tend to rush to try to make all our points and showcase all the work we did. However, this never really works. Rushing leads to a lot of mistakes and frustration, and it also makes it harder for people to understand what you’re saying. Rehearsing makes it substantially easier to know how much time your presentation takes. It also makes it easier to improvise if you forget something.