On Wednesday evening, January 18th, we welcomed nine business professionals from the Brown County area to speak to our students about topics including “networking” and “professionalism”. The purpose of this panel discussion was to introduce the students, through panel member personal stories, to the importance of being involved in their respective communities. Chris Marcks said that it’s no longer who you know, as we’ve always been told. She stated: “It’s not who you know, but what you do with that information that makes all the difference.”
“Networking is expected to get business”, stated Nick Natzke, a Financial Representative from Northwestern Mutual. When approaching the topic of “Casual Friday” within his company, Nick smiled and said “This is “Casual Friday”, as he pulled on his suit coat. Rachel Greely, a CPA with Schenck said that “professionalism is expected” in the business world. All panel members spoke about the fact that there is a lot of competition out there and it’s important to set yourself apart. Denise Hajos, Fundraising Manager with Children’s Hospital, explained the importance of being “genuine” and asking questions about other people. Denise explained that it’s much easier to build relationships with people when they feel that you genuinely care about them and take time to listen.
Cheryl Detrick, President/CEO of the De Pere Area Chamber of Commerce and Chris Marcks, a Human Resources Professional, spoke at length about professionalism and the direct connection to networking. Cheryl stated “I’m promoting a community” as she spoke about being in a “fishbowl” and always being mindful of her behavior. Chris stated “I am who I am, personally and professionally, because you never know who you’re going to meet…I consider it all networking.”
Andy Heyrman, a Representative with Heyrman Printing said that networking has opened doors for him. Chad Heath, Insurance & Risk Management Professional with Alliance Insurance Centers, LLC said “I wouldn’t have this career if it wasn’t for networking.”
When talking about ways to network, Ryan Dreier with the Salvation Army told our students that he’s always looking for people to approach him with ideas and the follow through to assist with their programs. Ryan’s advice to our students included his comment to “never miss an opportunity to help someone else…..Be involved.”
Aaron Oppenheimer, Village of Bellevue Administrator, described his position as “community building, addressing resident concerns and volunteering/raising funds.” He stated that networking is critical in his position.
All panel members discussed professionalism within social media sites such as Facebook. “If you don’t want to see it in the headlines, don’t put it on Facebook” said Cheryl. Many panel members strongly encouraged our students not only to look at their own posts and pictures, but to be aware of their friends’ information, as that feeds onto their own “wall”.
This panel discussion was a huge success and great opportunity for our students to begin the networking process right away following our discussion. A huge thank you to all business professionals for your time and insightful information!