Last week I had the pleasure to meet undergraduates
and then offer a program on “Wise Skills,” followed
by some exceptional mock interviews. After the
program at Niagara University, Professor R. Goacher
and I went over the MUD cards which presented
some of the questions the undergraduates had and
things they liked about the workshop.
Here are a couple of the questions.
1. What are some suggestions about how to calm
yourself in an interview and how to keep yourself
from fidgeting when you get nervous or don’t know
what to do with your hands?
This is a targeted question which hints at a generally
larger phobia that all people face– nervousness in
interviews and giving presentation. Some understand
from the get-go that it is normal to be nervous and
to manage it by several tactics. Two undergraduates
who took me to the class room actually saw me do
many of the things that prepared me to do well–
- 60/20 rule and know your first 2 minutes down pat
- use resources in the room– board, prepared hand-outs,
visual aids, both prepared in advance and created live
- relate to the audience and perform an “attention
switch”, where you are no longer thinking of yourself
but an actor making a case and seeking positive feedback
from the audience
- learn and develop the presentation skill of waiting,
taking pauses allowing you to think as you are delivering
and taking in audience nonverbal signals, Partnoy’s, “Wait”
is exemplary reading on this.
- know the audience
- prepare yourself by visiting the restroom before beginning
to make sure you are at your level best.
2. How can I approach someone in a networking situation?
I am young and feel that I don’t have much to offer. I don’t
want to come off as someone who needs a favor but can not
So, let me tell you what we did at Niagara. A new professor
and I went to lunch and she paid. We have jointly agreed,
yet informally, that I would be pleased and have the time to
act as a mentor. We chose our lunch items and then
proceeded to the check out where I briefly
chatted with the cashier who was there in her role for her
We got her name, the cashier learned mine and
we talked for a moment about weekend events. The new
professor then introduced herself and made a nice
Walking away, the professor commented, do you commonly
create small talk with many people, engage with and make
friendly chatter making them feel significant and present.
Yes, I responded– these are consequential strangers and
part of my network.
There are others. Several questions I have from the week
I will contact respected mentors and seek their thoughts
and advice. It is a way I keep in touch. Several former
students and colleagues will be asked the same questions
more for saying a quick hello.
Several of my competitors who professionally compete
for the same opportunities I will share what has happened
in my week of presentations. I do it even if I do not hear
back, in fact, not expecting anything in return. These are
tactics of a networker.
Then, I will at some future point contact people with whom
I work well.
Resources such as this blog are a continual refresher of
sharing well intentioned, focused on other people’s
betterment, not-personal-gain communication.