The Missing Piece

October 22, 2009

Talk your way into opportunity: a life of networking

The power of knowledge is the ability to share knowledge with other people. What better way to share knowledge than through networking.
Pic: Human Capital Institute
Networking is a method of communication used for many different purposes. However, the main purpose of networking is to keep in touch with people through conversations.

Conversations are the key to networking. Every conversation is an opportunity to meet new people, exchange ideas and share information – an opportunity to network. So, whether you are networking professionally or personally, use your networking skills beyond the company’s annual conference.

Make networking a part of your lifestyle.

It’s easy to collect business cards, names and phone numbers. However, following up with contacts is another story. While it’s difficult to stay in touch every minute or second of the day, finding the time to contact people at least once or twice a year is a good start. Use a special event (i.e. Birthdays and Holidays), as a perfect excuse to contact people or keep in touch.

I haven’t mastered it myself but I do envy people who are able talk themselves in and out of conversations. Holding an interesting conversation is a skill – one that takes practice. So, don’t wait until the company’s annual conference to network. Practice networking every chance you get. The supermarket, library and post office are all places you can practice networking.

However, remember, you can’t do all the talking. Successfully networking also requires listening. You can’t hold an interesting conversation without listening and vice versa.

There are many different ways to network and different types of networking. The key to successful networking is conversation. Every conversation is an opportunity to meet new people, exchange ideas and share information – an opportunity to network. Try practicing your networking skills today.

–Makeysha Durham


September 29, 2009

The college application essay: telling your story

Here’s a funny look at one man’s approach to acing your college admission essay.


The college essay is a major challenge for students seeking admission.  Students find the writing process intimidating. 

So students write about their achievements instead of personal experiences.  Students write using huge vocabulary words and complex sentences.  Students focus on their accomplishments and personal experiences without answering the essay question.

College admission boards use college application essays to learn more about students.  So students must use the college application essay as their personalized introduction to college admission boards. 

My suggestion is to treat each college application essay as if you were on a n important date.  You know, you meet that special someone and you want to make a good impression.  With that analogy in mind:

Step 1: Find a story to tell. 
Students writing a college application essay must use this opportunity to introduce yourself to the college admission board.  You don’t want to waste the opportunity listing your every accomplishment.  Instead, you want to discuss your personal experiences.  You can find a story to tell by asking yourself the following questions:
                        What do you want people to know about you? 
                        What makes you unique? 
                        What challenges have you overcome?  

Step 2: Write in your own words.  
It sounds cliché but be yourself.  The college application essay is not a test of intellect. You don’t need  to use huge vocabulary words and complex sentence structures.  Instead, write about yourself the way you would talk to that special someone.
Step 3: Focus on the essay question and be concise. 
Students failing to answer an essay question hurt their chances for admission.  It’s easy to lose focus telling a story in your own words.  So remember the purpose of your story in relation to the essay question and be concise.   
For prospective students, writing a college essay is a challenge but it can be achieved.  My suggestions are to find a story to tell, write in your own words, focus on the essay question and be concise.

–Makeysha Durham

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