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Oct 19, 2023

Intentional Networking: Exploring the Art of Making Professional Connections

By Gui Marinho, Luther Hodges Scholars Class of 2024

One could say there is nothing more descriptive of business schools than networking sessions. Yet, while some business students are eager to gain connections from these events, others roll their eyes when hearing the dreadful word, “networking.” In preparation for this year’s Frontiers of Business Conference, Luther Hodges Scholars provided a networking prep session for students attending. Facilitated by Sarah Franks, Executive Director of the Institute for Private Capital, this session provided an overview of the conference and tips on how best to network with business professionals attending.

I really enjoyed Ms. Franks’ presentation because she explained how networking can be an enjoyable and genuine tool to build relationships, rather than a transactional exchange. Her biggest piece of advice was to treat networking as a way to grow both your professional and personal community by connecting with others on a deeper level than merely career experiences. Attendees learned that a genuine curiosity and interest in others is crucial in making effective connections. Additionally, Ms. Franks explained that identifying personal commonalities and interests beyond work make lasting impressions and can facilitate a more natural entry to discussing professional interests. Another key point from our conversation with Ms. Franks’ was how the subject of discussion is not the most important thing from the interaction. Instead, what matters most is how we make others feel and what memories & emotions are associated with the conversation.

Ms. Franks’ advice was incredibly useful for the 2023 Frontiers of Business Conference where other students and I were able to connect with experienced professionals and academics from across the country. During the conference, I implemented her tips of listening more than speaking, sitting with guests that I did not know, and keeping business cards to follow up after the event. As a result, I made meaningful connections that I hope to stay in touch with long after the conference! Ultimately, this session helped me understand how one’s network is not just who is connected to you on LinkedIn and how you can take advantage of them. It is much deeper than that. Your network should be made of caring relationships, mutual support and continued interest in others.

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