Learning the Importance of Reciprocity in Networking

By Alissa Vladimir*

On Tuesday, March 13, the Emerging Leaders Network of the National Council for Research on Women and Philanthropy New York hosted The Nuts, Bolts & Art of Networking, a hands on networking workshop facilitated by David Schachter. Held at the offices of Philanthropy New York, and co-sponsored by NYU’s Wagner Women’s Caucus, the event featured a number of exercises in which participants paired up with one another, in an effort to engage in what Schachter calls the reciprocity of networking.

Schachter, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at NYU Wagner, explained that networking is not just about the information and opportunities you can gain from the people you are meeting, but also, the resources you can provide to others. Participants were given cards with paper clips attached to them. Attendees used the cards to write down the information they gained from their networking peers, and handed out a paper clip to their partner if they received a helpful piece of information during the conversation.

The goal of the exercise was to come away with as many paper clips as you started with, meaning that you are both giving and receiving when networking with your peers. Between each three minute one-on-one networking sessions, participants gathered together to discuss their experiences as a group, and to review the successes and failures of the experiences in their networking pairs.

The goal of every networking encounter is to leave a lasting and positive impression on the people you meet. Being prepared with a brief 30-second introductory pitch is an essential tool in professional networking settings. You should be able to quickly tell someone a few interesting and relevant details about yourself and your professional background. Following up in a timely manner after a networking event is also a crucial step in cultivating long-term professional relationships.

With the success of ENL’s first facilitated networking event, members should feel confident and ready to use their newfound skills in a more casual, unscripted atmosphere. Future plans for the Network will include a number of new and exciting opportunities to meet with peers from a variety of professions and organizations.

*Alissa is co-chair of NCRW’s Emerging Leaders Network and a Program Associate at BRAC USA.

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