Yelena Cvek (far left) at WISE Boston's Speed Mentoring Event./ Photo credit: Nicole Hirsh Photography
The True Value of Networking
It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. Through WISE, I have learned the true value of networking. If done right, networking will open doors for you. Networking can introduce you to people who can become your sounding board, open you to new ways of looking at things; networking can create business partnerships and even friendships that last a lifetime.
The WISE network has provided all of the above for me. Leading up to the Speed Mentoring Roundtables — an event in which industry veterans engage and “mentor” participants in small peer groups — I was questioning whether I should even attend. I was exhausted after a long week of work. I wasn’t looking to network, and I wasn’t looking for a new job. However, after the event, a Roundtable mentor whom I met at other WISE events approached me about a position on her team at the Boston Bruins. She remembered conversations we had had about branding and sponsorships over time, and told me to email her my résumé.
A Perfect Fit
Before I knew it, I was in her office interviewing. The job description was a perfect fit, which I wouldn’t have known if it weren’t for the relationship I had built with her over time. Through my WISE network, I had multiple women as sounding boards during the process and great referrals who already worked for the team. Within a week, I was offered and accepted the position. I couldn’t be happier in my new role.
Networking is a Long-term Process
Networking is a long-term process, and WISE provides the perfect platform to get you started. Here is some advice to keep in mind:
Be Bold. Hand write letters, cold call, drive to New York City for an informational interview. Most people don’t go the extra step, so you will stand out.
Show Interest. When you meet someone, let your interest, motivation and curiosity shine through. Be genuinely engaged and ask for other people to share their experiences and advice.
Listen. Be a sponge. You can’t learn from hearing yourself talk.
Be Kind. Research shows people evaluate everyone they meet in terms of warmth and competence. Of the two, warmth mattered more!
Follow Up. Be persistent, but also patient. Make sure to stay top of mind while respecting the other person’s time.
Be Aware of Timing. Want to follow up after a meeting? See something that inspires you to reconnect? Don’t wait more than 24 hours!
Add Value. Always think about how you add value to others. Don’t just follow up when you need something! Share articles. Congratulate them. Show them how you took their advice. Focus on planting the seeds, NOT the fruit.
Grow Your Network. Ask for an introduction. Be respectful of other people’s networks, but there is no harm in asking, “Whom else do you know that I should talk to?”
Find a Mentor. Find someone who is doing what you want to do and is where you want to be. Make sure they are willing to help. Nurture the relationship.
About Yelena Cvek
Yelena Cvek is the strategic marketing manager of the Boston Bruins, where she focuses on brand development and strategically planning the team’s integrated marketing initiatives, including support for the brand, tickets, retail and events. Cvek was previously at the New England Patriots for five years and at Driver8, a startup brand strategy agency. She has been part of the WISE Boston board of directors since the chapter’s founding in 2010.