Network, Network, Network!

Posted on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019

Promote yourself! If you don’t, who will? Confidence is key, but so is humility. As interns we are at the bottom of the food chain, but many of the professionals you will meet started in the same position you are currently in. Reach out to them and hear their story, they most definitely did not become the chief of staff overnight. Don’t be afraid to ask people to have coffee or to send cold emails. It says a lot about who you are by taking the first step in starting conversation with a potential new connection, and people will notice your initative and leadership qualities.
 
Don’t complain about your situation, do something to make it better! Some days in the office will be extremely slow, but other days you will feel like a chicken running about with its head cut off. Take advantage of the slow days! Research hearings, briefing, or events you are interested in and present them to your supervisor. More than likely they will want you to attend and make new connections in order build your professional network. I truly believe the best ways to network are outside of work, and most of the times events have free food and drinks!
 
Never leave the house without your business cards, you never know who you will meet! While in D.C. I have been complemented numerous times by professionals for having business cards and being so young. Business cards really do promote your brand! I also recommend having a conversation and not just handing someone a card, a conservation shows you are truly interested and would possibly like to reach out to them in the future. You can hand out business cards all you want, but the genuine relationships are built through following up and staying in touch with your new contact. I always believe one quality conversation outweighs twenty superficial ones, so decide what you are trying to accomplish at networking events. You also never know who you might be working with one day, so it is best to treat everyone with respect and to always be polite in your conversations.
 
Some of the best ways to find networking events is researching online and asking your fellow colleagues. Below are a few of the websites I have used to find fun and free events around Washington, D.C. 
 
https://www.hillhappenings.com
 
https://www.eventbrite.com/d/dc--washington/networking/
 
https://www.meetup.com

Also Find an Aggie on The Association of Former Students is a wonderful tool to find former students. And if you don’t already have a LinkedIn, go ahead and make one to expand your connections!
 
https://www.aggienetwork.com/directory/
 
https://www.linkedin.com
 
Take full advantage of the opportunities offered to you in Washington, D.C. and best of luck networking!

Leslie Wilson
Dept. of Health & Human Services - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Washington, D.C. | summer 2019