Small Talk, Big Impact: The Power of Networking

Small Talk, Big Impact: The Power of Networking

It is not about what you know; it is about who you know.

These words have rung through my head since undergrad. Though having baseline knowledge helps get your foot in the door, the way you interact with people is what helps keep you in the room. For me, the world I want to enter is very small. Not many people want to work in avian medicine (what oddballs!) and even less people want to work with poultry, especially someone that is going to school in an area where commercial poultry is not present at all.

The veterinary community overall is a very small one, so it is important to brighten lighthouses, not burn bridges. I think that this notion gets even more essential when one is talking about networking. Networking is not bragging, not brown-nosing, and not fake, forced conversation. Or at least it shouldn’t be. There is a big stigma against networking for those above reasons. However, that is networking gone bad. If networking is a success, you won’t end with a business card at the end of the conversation, you will end with a memory (and possibly a new friend).

Roundabout but not runaround

Networking helps you to get to know yourself. You get to learn about how you judge someone and how you critically think about your own professional career. Recently, I went to the Cornell Special Species Symposium and networked with one of the speakers from the conference. We chatted for a bit and exchanged information, but our conversation was unexpectedly cut short. I then attempted to resume the conversation the next day over email, and he astounded me by sending me back links of how to find the information I was asking about. He was not particularly familiar about my interest because he has just grazed the subject during his presentation, but he knew someone that did and encouraged me to reach out to her. I did and it turned out that she used to work for Tufts and was going to be in the area the following weekend and asked if we could meet in person to discuss. We met and the first topic of conversation was about the conference she had just attended, and how at conferences like those “you come for the subject, but stay for the people”.  Again, stressing the networking, even at an advanced professional level.

What’s your POV?

Being the Food Network nerd that I am, I am always thinking about the term “POV” (as heard in “Food Network Star”™). POV means “point of view” and is the basis of why the contestants cook and what they want to teach their viewers. I think POVs (amended in our field as “practical opinions of vets”) are what is and should be the forefront of any networking encounter. Yes, our field is based on technical skills, but the POV are the nuggets of wisdom that people will remember. Even greenhorns to the field like myself still can provide the POVs, but our POV has a fresh outlook on the industry that helps experienced professionals see something from a different perspective. This either cements practices that are already in place or helps to reconfigure the industry. Veterinary medicine is so varied because of this dialogue between new and old, always changing POVs.

Challenge

So, with that, I challenge my fellow Jumbos (or whoever is taking the time to kindly read this), take this little challenge this summer: network at least once this summer. Through your jobs, internships, or even your vacation, meet someone new and strike up a conversation. Bring what you have learned up to this point and don’t just dazzle, but inspire. Inspire the person you are networking with to see veterinary medicine in a slightly different way, and more importantly learn something new about their POV of the field. Engage in a dialogue that you can bring back to North Grafton this fall. I can’t wait to hear who you’ve met and who has had the honor of meeting you.

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