Shaking the Networking Jitters

Everything we’re told about finding a job boils down to one take away – it’s all about your network. Networking has always been a slightly sour word for me regardless of its necessity and the fact that when I think about it, the majority of the opportunities I’ve been met with in life have been the result of networking. When I started this program, I knew that my hesitation towards networking was something I would need to work on and find myself pleasantly surprised at how quickly it has begun to feel more natural.

Networking is generally easier when there are at least a few people in the room that I already know – allies for when I just can’t figure out how to approach someone and start a conversation. This is how I shook off the networking jitters in July when I attended the Agents of Change Meet Up hosted by Fourth Economy Consulting, a national community and economic development consulting firm. The event was held at Threadbare Cider and was open to all people working on community, economic development or a variety of other social issues in Pittsburgh. I attended the event along with two other members of the cohort and ended up running into a couple MBA-SBP alumni as well. Together we made our way around the room and spoke with a number of professionals working towards prioritizing sustainability across industries and sectors in the Pittsburgh area. We spoke with people from New Sun Rising, Grounded Strategies, and BNY Mellon, in addition to having the chance to meet one of the founders of Fourth Economy Consulting.

After speaking to a few people with my colleagues by my side, I noticed myself becoming more comfortable initiating conversations and eventually ventured off for solo conversations with the professionals who had previously intimidated me. I was excited to be learning so much about the diversity and wealth of progressive and sustainable work being carried out across the city and thrilled to be in a room with so many similarly minded people.

Not only were people happy to share information about the work they’re doing but they were glad to offer frank advice in regard to searching for jobs in sustainability. After two hours of engaging conversation, tasty local cider, and a slice of pizza from Threadbare’s Gold Level kitchen designated by Sustainable Pittsburgh, I left the event feeling enriched with knowledge, a more positive outlook on networking, and most importantly, a few business cards that expand my network of people who are doing incredible work to make Pittsburgh, and our world, significantly more pleasant. – Laura Jernegan