Networking event ignites the night
Sydney’s CBD Hotel was a hive of networking professionals last week as UOW’s Alumni Relations Office held its second Ignite Series event for 2012.
Targeted at Sydney-based graduates, the event featured guest speakers Cara Pring, a UOW graduate, International Site Manager for Microsoft and founder of The Social Skinny and Paul Gray, CMO and Community Director of Bubble Gum Interactive.
The pair shared their tips for making connections, both citing LinkedIn as an invaluable networking tool and saying that following up with an email or phone call within 48 hours of meeting a person was vital to keep the connection alive.
Once the bell chimed for the speed networking to commence, the room ignited with the buzz of conversation. The first topic of the night urged attendees to share why they attended the event. Common reasons included to hear from the speakers, to make professional connections within the employment market, to help others through mentoring, to gain career advice from peers and even to find their soul mate!
UOW alumnus Laura Wilson had attended previous events in the Ignite Series and said that she enjoyed hearing the interesting backgrounds and stories from the range of speakers.
“I have come to past Ignite events, and I enjoy the fresh perspectives the speakers give. They’re always interesting topics and it’s a great opportunity to reconnect with UOW; I’m always interested to know what’s happening there,” Laura said.
Daniel Lynch, an alumnus who had just moved back to Sydney after spending the last four years in Switzerland said he saw the event as an opportunity to reconnect with the job market.
“Although I just landed a job on Monday, this is a good opportunity to see what’s out there in the employment market, to make professional connections with people back in Sydney and to start building some relationships,” Daniel said.
Tony Yortis graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) in 1989 and is now General Manager, Information Systems at Sinclair Knight Merz.
He said he enjoys staying connected to UOW through alumni events so that he can help people by sharing his knowledge as a mentor.
Vanessa Gonzales came to the speed networking event to become inspired because she is at a crossroads in her career.
“I’m deciding between staying on my current career path or making a complete change. I came here tonight to get some ideas and motivation from hearing other’s stories,” Vanessa said.
“Plus I’ve also come here to meet people. I was an international student and all of my friends at UOW were other international students who returned to their home countries after their studies.”
The benefits of speed networking, however, are not only professional. One alumnus revealed that he met his wife at the last networking occasion he attended. Another attendee noted that she had come along to meet new people..and hopefully a boyfriend.
Conversation flowed easily throughout the night, with most people swapping business cards. A job offer was even made to an attendee.
The UOW Alumni Relations Office is holding its next networking event for Wollongong-based alumni aged under 35 at The Little Prince on Thursday, November 22. For details, or to register, visit the Young Alumni Drinks webpage.
By Evette Deaves