“Network: laugh and learn from each other”
by Esther NAKYAZE
As a risk taker, I committed to taking on the first blog, lol! It’s been challenging but worthwhile! My reason for joining the communication committee was simple, I am not the best communicator. So how better to learn than to take that leap. So here goes….
In the middle of `one of those nights, where your thoughts are racing, the lights off, no sounds, except the sound of a humming generator and the soothing sound of the Vaal river, trying to think of my best highlight of the day. I recalled George, the last person I met during the network café session!
At 2:00pm the item on the agenda was the network café. I could not imagine how this would work, especially with the drowsiness that sneaks up on you after having lunch. I tried to imagine what a network café would be, with many random thoughts popping into my mind. Maybe in the cafeteria? Maybe round tables with cups of coffee? Maybe moving close to the beautiful natural scenery of the Vaal waters? With all these random thoughts, yet trying to keep calm.
Under the tall shady tree in front of the training room, we lined up from shortest to tallest. It still did not make sense to me. Seconds later, we started moving in our newly formed line up to the hall. Inside we had to sit short ones occupied inner chairs, and taller ones on the chairs in the outside circle.
Instructions started, “you can only spend 5 minutes with a person”. It seemed like it would be a long time, but after starting to talk to the first person, I realized there was an automatic unbreakable connection. I felt relieved that I had shared where I am in my career, a question I never love to answer. The many questions asked by the first person I networked with guided me on what I can share with others. Interestingly, the second person came from the same country as me but we only had 2 minutes previously to get to know each other. What an opportunity it was! The next person’s story was not very different from my own, this made me feel safe and that I am on the right path for my career. I also felt more comfortable to share about my work and my career plans. Number four, five, six, …..eight, it was insightful, motivational, fresh ideas, and meeting resourceful people and so much to learn from every one. The many similarities in future plans stood out, the diversity in profession but having one goal. My ninth meet was with a few worded gentle man; the feedback he gave me was that I seemed to love my work.
This was just before I met George, my key highlight of the day. With a huge smile on his face, he was clear that all he wants to talk about was life outside work. This was so refreshing to have a completely different and breath taking discussion after nine professional talks. What I learnt from George was that networking was not just about professional experience, but laughing together too.
I was pleased to hear that most participants felt the same way;
“I was pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable it was to talk to others and learn more about them” Tam
“Networking leads to new connections, insights and friendships, I look forward to more sessions” Claire
This made me understand that just five minutes of conversation can change your life.