With Melbourne’s lockdown opening, it was just the right time to learn about Networking Effectively and putting your best foot forward with two amazing guest speakers, @Diletta (Startup Founder, Connector & Enabler) and @Elena, Founder of GippsTech and an Ex-Googler.

If you are wondering how I get to attend an event with such great speakers it’s because I am part of the @IllumeFoundation Fellowship program which focuses on supporting graduates like myself to kickstart our career by securing our first internship or landing our dream jobs. Plus we get to meet amazing startup founders and mentors every week.

I’d like to share some of the things I learnt during the sessions.

You can network anywhere and it is not just for extroverts. What is important is to network with intention and be prepared.

Oftentimes, we send LinkedIn or any social media connection requests without much thought, let alone sharing our goal/motive behind the connection. This might turn into a fruitless connection, so Delietta’s suggestion was to make the invite to connect ‘personal’ and even share why you’d like to connect.

Another important aspect of Networking is the ‘Giver/Taker Mindset’. How many times have you thought of ‘what can I offer in the networking session rather than thinking what am I going to get out of this networking session?’ I certainly haven’t thought about this.   

The givers tend to think about what value they can bring to the company or the industry, takers focus on what they can get during the networking event. With the giver’s mindset, we can make deeper connections which can lead to hidden opportunities. This made me realise I need to start Networking right! 

Elena’s session on thinking innovatively around your career was exactly what I needed to hear as I begin to look for job opportunities when I graduate in a month’s time. Elena’s career is so fascinating- starting as a PhD Researcher to leading Google’s Product team to now bringing economic activity in Regional Victoria with her company GippsTech, she is an inspiration to many young, women professionals like me.

Her transition to each of these roles was tied to 1) where can I learn 2) where can I make an impact in society 3) where can I work with amazing people. This was ‘GOLD’.

Her suggestion to budding founders- before starting out, discuss your ideas with mentors, networks, friends, family. This helps to learn, evaluate and adjust the plan if needed.

My favorite part of the session- To be successful in any interview is a combination of preparation, luck and saying the right things.

She spent 100 hours of interview preparation for her role at Google. She elaborated how practicing mock interviews with different people helped her to be confident and analyse what not to say. I now have 90 more hours to go…

Lastly, it is always great to learn how employers view junior graduate staff, particularly at a startup so we can be prepared when we apply- It is not just enough to have technical skills but have the knowledge of the big picture,  such as company goals, client needs and the ability to do quick product iteration and evaluation. This makes networking and building relationships with coworkers or supervisors very important and to be on track with their organisation’s progress.

I would like to thank Laxmi Pun for providing a platform to learn new ideas and opportunities and my fellow cohorts at Illume Foundation for a great learning experience and I would like to extend my thanks to my fellow cohort member Hongleang Lim for his help on putting this blog together.

Supriya Makane
Masters of Business Administration
(2021-Illume Fellow)