Students make connections at networking seminar

For many college students, business mixers and social-networking events can be estranging and scary. In an era when connections can so easily be made via LinkedIn or Facebook and introductions are made by a few key strokes and the press of the enter key, it’s easy to see why.

For the many who need advice on how to crack their anxiety cocoons and become social butterflies, however, “Making the Right Impression” was hosted on Friday Feb. 12 in the MacVittie College Union Hunt Room. This event was part of the Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development program’s “Life After Geneseo” series. The event gave students first-rate advice on how to handle themselves at business events, as well as providing some experience in an actual professional networking setting.

The Hunt Room was set with two rows of circular tables and in back was a bar and small snack buffet. Guests over 21 were given one drink ticket, with a choice of beer or wine. On each table was a bright-green pamphlet with five tips on how to make the right impression.

Entering the Hunt Room seemed intimidating, but the tables were full of smiling faces. After some small talk, area coordinator for Monroe and Saratoga Halls and event speaker Jacob Sherry introduced participants to an icebreaker.

“We’re going to play a game where the goal is to talk to as many people as possible and the ones to network most are given prizes,” he said.

The table I approached had a surprisingly diverse cast, including former visiting lecturer in geological sciences and current Coordinator of Residential Education Meg Reitz and recent SUNY Old Westbury graduate John Murray, who held interests in sustainable development and public administration.

I met a student from Tokyo—senior Isshu Kikuma—and learned that he was a former intern for JKSFF, a nonprofit summer camp for high school exchange students from Korea and Japan. As Reitz and Kikuma began to exchange information, Reitz noted how her sister’s husband had recently worked for a company in Tokyo—a unique connection that may not have been formed without the GOLD workshop.

After the game had reached its time limit, Sherry offered some advice on how to handle oneself at an event like this.

“Unless your representative from the worksite orders a drink, don’t order one,” Sherry said. “But say they offer you a drink and you’re kinda, sorta nervous and don’t want to get drunk and become crazy, you can always turn down drinks, but be sure not to offend your co-workers. You don’t want to make people feel guilty.”   

After all of Sherry’s advice, the night ended with newly made friends exchanging emails and wishing each other a goodnight.