Practicing the fine art of networking

 "Mocktails" networking event at the JW Marriott in Cherry Creek

"Mocktails" networking event at the JW Marriott in Cherry Creek

As we were taught throughout JA Business Week, networking is important to your success in a business and as a business person. We were taught the ways of networking through LinkedIn and other social media sites, we were shown how to dress when meeting new people, and we were instructed on etiquette for social events in business; but there was one event during the week that really emphasized what we had learned about networking: Mocktails.

JA Business Week students practice their networking skills with the help of Denver-area professionals

Mocktails gave the students at JA Business Week a chance to practice what they had learned from speakers and workshops throughout the week with real business people and professionals. It was our chance to see if we were good at starting a conversation with someone we did not know or if we need to practice a little more. Some students picked it up faster than others and they were able to effectively communicate with business professionals. Other students may not have been as confident to just start talking with adults and took some time to come out of their shell and start a conversation with someone. No matter what category a student fell under, by the end of the night all of the JA Business Week students were happy with how they had done and glad they met the people they did. Their network started that night and will continue to grow from now on.

As one of the speakers that instructed the students, more is not always better. Personally, I had many friends who met a lot of people during Mocktails, but I did not. Instead I met about three or four people but made a more meaningful connection with. These people that I met are people that I am more likely to network with in the future, unlike peers who may forget what some of their contacts do for a living. I was able to make connections between the people that I met proving that it is a small world after all. I was also able to find common interests we share that will make these people a stronger network if I start working on something that we have a common interest in.

Overall, no matter what group students fell in—be it the group that came in and immediately made a lot of connections or the group of students that came in shy and timid but made a connection with one or two business people or students that were somewhere in between—everyone there was able to make meaningful connections that taught us how to network.

-Nina Asher, JA Business Week student

Team building gone right

  Bailey Gent (third from left) was part of Company X

Bailey Gent (third from left) was part of Company X

I have attended Junior Achievement Business Week for the past three years. The program always leads to new learning experiences and open doors. The people at Junior Achievement really see each student for who they can be and see the up-most potential in each individual. Most years students leave JA Business Week discussing how much they loved the etiquette dinner, or speed dating style interviews, mock tails with prominent Denver business people or the Entrepreneurial Summit Lunch. Now the past two years I have walked away the same way, usually favoring the mock tail networking. This year what made business week special for me was very different from in the past.

This year at JA Business Week I was fortunate enough to have a really excellent team of people standing beside me in my team. This team started off quiet and we had a difficult time breaking the ice. One day we decided to lunch together and work to establish relationships with one another. When we arrived in the cafeteria and piled our plates with food we headed outside to enjoy a meal and what we expected to be another “boring team building exercise.” What was facilitated that afternoon was much more than that. Our company ended up talking in the cafeteria well into our next session of company meetings. As a group we each shared two personal strengths and two personal weaknesses. Doing this helped many team members to open up and to share a piece of themselves with the team (I mean what makes us feel more vulnerable than exposing weakness?) As each individual shared a these things other team members would lift them up with other strengths they had witnessed.

By the end of the lunch period we had done much more than break the ice within our team, we had begun to share our hearts with one another and open up on a beautiful relational level. This exercise helped to mold Company X as a team for the remainder of the week. What a powerful experience.

-Bailey Gent, JA Business Week Student