A blog by Maddie Brady

Recent Posts

Beyonce and Jay-Z’s On the Run II Tour was Really Heteronormative

Beyonce and Jay-Z’s On the Run II Tour was Really Heteronormative

Over the weekend I got the chance to see the one and only Beyonce perform in Chicago. Oh and Jay-Z was there, too. But what started as a chance to tick an item off my bucket list turned into a full-blown gender theory extravaganza. If […]

Becca’s Bachelorette Recap + Who Will Be the Next Bachelor?

Becca’s Bachelorette Recap + Who Will Be the Next Bachelor?

We did it, people! We made it to the end of Becca’s season of The Bachelorette. And let me tell you, it was… pretty boring. What courteous and respectful way will Becca let this guy down? What sub-par board of tourism paid them enough this […]

Networking Tips to Help You Make Genuine Connections

Networking Tips to Help You Make Genuine Connections

As I’ve mentioned here before, I took about five months off from work this year and spent a big portion of that job searching. It was definitely exhausting, but, ultimately, I learned a lot about what I’m looking for in my career and how to get the kind of job I want.

By far the most effective (and most intimidating) tool for career development that I learned? Networking! I used to think networking was scary and fake, but I’ve actually had such a good experience with it recently and I think it’s really about finding people you actually like! Since I feel like there’s a lot of mystery and weirdness surrounding networking, I thought I’d write up some tips that helped me when I was starting out:

  • Start with people you know. This is the best way to warm up your networking chops! Talking to friends and family helps you practice your “elevator pitch” and they might even know people who can help you with your job search.
  • Find a mutual connection. After friends and family, the next group of people I recommend chatting with are people you have a mutual connection with. I find it easier to reach out when I have a conversation starter like a mutual friend or alma mater.
    • People connections: Friends of friends, friends’ siblings, parents’ colleagues, etc. are all great people to talk to once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for.
    • Place connections: Reconnect with people you went to school with, update former colleagues on your job search, join a local professional association, etc. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are great too if you’re not sure where to start! Also, some colleges offer career development resources, so check those out, as well.
  • Use social media. Having a social media presence and being active on it can be so helpful while you’re looking for a job. Use social media to share your portfolio, show personal projects, and put a face to a name. Follow people who do what you want to do and engage with them! Respond to their Instagram stories, reply to their tweets, and, once you’ve established a rapport, message them about their job. I’ve even had a couple of people pass along my resume to their company as a result!
  • Be open. You never know who might know someone, so be open to whoever people connect you with. Sometimes it won’t be helpful and that’s okay – think of it as practice, which is ultimately how you get better at networking. But sometimes you’ll meet someone who works at a great company or can give you a referral – you have to kiss a few frogs, right?

 

  • Go in with an objective. When going to a networking event, I find it really helpful to go into a situation with a goal. Sometimes that goal is to talk to ONE person and that’s totally fine. Other times it’s more specific: get the name of one company I should apply to, ask three people advice on framing my previous experience to better fit their industry, etc. This helps guide my conversations, gives me some questions to ask, and makes me feel like my time was worthwhile even if I don’t hit it off with anyone.
  • Ask “Who else can you connect me with?” I recently learned this tip from someone I networked with (Thanks, Meghan!) and it’s such an easy and effective way to keep the ball rolling: at the end of a good networking meeting, ask that person who else they can connect you with. People really want to help other people and it’s so much easier to connect with someone when you have a reference. LinkedIn is a great place to do this since new contacts can see who you’re connected to and they can skim your resume quickly, too.
  • Have fun! Okay, maybe that’s a bit of reach, but networking doesn’t have to be the most miserable thing in the world. Look for networking events that sound fun (or at least have an open bar) and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. If you’re meeting someone for coffee, go somewhere fun you’ve been wanting to try. Learn what you can from people and if you hit it off, that’s great! If not, no worries. Networking gets a bad reputation for being stilted and fake, but I think of it as an opportunity to find people you genuinely like.

 

A Few Don’ts:

  • Ask people for a job. This is the number one thing I needed to wrap my head around when it came to networking. It’s not about meeting someone once and getting a job, it’s about getting information that could ultimately lead to a job. It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Instead of asking if their company is hiring, ask them about their experience at the company, what they like about the industry, what frustrates them, etc. Get to know them first and see if they’re even the kind of person you want to get a referral from! If after a few conversations or interactions you want to ask them if their company is hiring then go for it.
  • Only network when you’re job searching. I learned this the hard way – network early and often! It’s a long game so don’t wait until you’re actively applying to meet people and see what’s out there. I know it can be hard to carve out time to chat with people while you’re working full time, but try baking it into your work routine. Now that I’m working again, I try to dedicate at least an hour a week to reaching out to new people, catching up with old connections, or researching companies that sound interesting.
  • Pay for LinkedIn Premium. I tried the Free Trial when I was job searching and honestly, I would not pay for this service. I could see who viewed my profile, but that fed my curiosity more than it helped me network. If a recruiter wants to get in touch with you, they will. Premium also gives you the ability to send up to 3 messages to people you’re not connected with, but the success rate of cultivating a great connection based on a random message is pretty slim. LinkedIn on it’s own is an amazing tool (and actually how I got the job I have today), but Premium just isn’t that helpful.

 

Are you guys on the networking grind? It’s definitely a lot of work, but in the long run I think it’s totally worth it for the insight you get from people and the chance at a foot in the door. And if you meet a few people you genuinely like along the way, that’s awesome!

Now that I’m back in Madison, my next networking move is to meet more people here! If you’re a Madison person and want to talk digital marketing, social media, or blogging, hit me up! (See what I did there? 😏)

Is Slow Instagram Becoming a Thing?

Is Slow Instagram Becoming a Thing?

In the world of social media, everything is instant: instant sharing, instant shopping, instant gratification. But is there a movement emerging on social media to slow things down – is Slow Instagram becoming a thing? So, what does it mean for Instagram to be “slow”? […]

A Life Update from Madison!

A Life Update from Madison!

Greetings from Madison, friends! In a whirlwind of events over the last several weeks I’ve found myself back in the Dairyland and, honestly, I’m so excited to be back. At first I felt a little weird moving back when I was literally just here, but […]

21 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Chicago This Summer

21 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Chicago This Summer

Chicago's The Bean in Summer

Since I’ve been job searching this summer, I’ve been watching my pennies a little more carefully than normal. Luckily, that doesn’t mean I miss out on all the fun, either. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on free and cheap things to do in the city that actually sound legitimately fun, so I thought I’d share with you guys in case you’re looking for something to do!

Check it out and let me know if there’s anything missing that’s on your list!

Art & Culture

Concerts in Millennium Park: Various Dates, FREE.

Chicago SummerDance (Dance Lessons and Music): Every Wed – Sunday in Grant Park, FREE.

Art Institute of Chicago Free Nights: 5-8pm Thursdays, FREE to Illinois Residents.

Museum of Contemporary Art Free Days: Every Tuesday, FREE to Illinois Residents.

Lincoln Park Zoo: Open and FREE everyday!

Garfield Park Conservatory: Open and FREE everyday! (This would be a beautiful photo shoot location – looking at you blogger friends or newly engaged people!)

National Museum of Mexican Art: Tuesday – Sunday 10-5, FREE.

Half-Price Theater Tickets (or check out my favorite shows here): Various Prices on Hot Tix.

Asian American Theater Fest @ Victory Gardens: August 13-18, tickets start at $10.

Chicago Jazz Festival @ Millennium Park: August 30-Sept 2, FREE

Keith Haring Mural Exhibit @ The Chicago Cultural Center: Now through Sept 23, FREE

 

Food & Street Fests

The Taste of Chicago: July 11-15 in Grant Park, FREE Admission and only $10 for 14 Food Tickets.

Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square: July 13-15, $10 Suggested Donation.

Taste of River North: July 20-22, $5 Suggested Donation.

Tacos y Tamales Festival (Pilsen): July 20-22, $5 Suggested Donation.

Wicker Park Fest: July 27-29, $10 Suggested Donation.

Randolph Street Market: July 28-29, $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

 

Sports & Workouts

White Sox Baseball Games: Various Dates, Tickets start at $7 – lol that’s not a typo. (Pro tip: If you show up around the 6th inning they’ll sometimes just give you a FREE ticket.)

Millennium Park Summer Workouts: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, FREE.

5K Timed Runs in Humboldt, Washington, and Warren Park: FREE, just make sure to sign up in advance!

Workouts at Gallagher Way (Wrigleyville): Mondays-Saturdays, FREE.

 

[This guide from Choose Chicago and this list of street festivals from LakeShore Lady were super helpful in putting this together, go check them out!]

My Favorite White Summer Dress

My Favorite White Summer Dress

Every summer I have one dress that I wear non-stop and this year it’s this beauty from Urban Outfitters. It’s the perfect summer party dress: cute, casual, and a little sexy. And with the balance of the deep V-neck and the midi length it totally […]

I Watched The Proposal So You Don’t Have To

I Watched The Proposal So You Don’t Have To

If you’ve seen any episode of this season’s The Bachelorette then you’ve also seen about one billion ads for ABC’s new show, The Proposal. If you haven’t (and you’re lucky), here’s the premise: a mystery bachelor (or bachelorette as we’ll see next week) sits in […]

5 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

5 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman

For: Fans of the Franchise and Reality TV Buffs

I’m a pretty recent fan of The Bachelor shows – I watched my first full season last summer – but have become 100% invested in the franchise ever since. So, of course, I pounced on this book when it came out. It’s so gossipy and fun and definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. But it still asks some good questions: Why are feminists so into The Bachelor? Do the producers go to far? How does no one get STDs while on the show?? It’s a super quick read so it’s perfect to bring along for a long weekend or a plane ride.

 

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

For: My White Friends

This book is definitely the heaviest on this list, but it’s also the most important book I’ve read in years. It breaks down the facts about how and why the number of black people in prisons and jails across the United States vastly out weighs the number of white people. It’s a bit on the academic side so prepare to hunker down through some chapters, but it includes some stunning statistics and breaks down how politics (i.e. The War on Drugs, the Supreme Court, etc.) have hit urban black communities especially hard. If you’re upset with what’s happening in America right now and want to get educated, read this.

 

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

For: Romance Lovers (and Fans of the Film)

I notoriously do NOT like things that are super hyped, so I was skeptical when it came to Call Me By Your Name. Then fast forward to me bawling openly on a plane while watching the movie and falling totally in love with it. My friend Aoife sent me the book soon after and it’s equally as beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s a quick and steamy read with an ending that’s slightly different than the movie, so I recommend it even if you’ve seen it a million times.

 

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

For: The Beach Reader

This is actually the first Jodi Picoult book I’ve ever read and I definitely get the craze now. I was sucked into this one right away and read the whole thing in a few days. I won’t lie, it started to drag towards the end and didn’t quite pack the punch I was looking for, but I would still recommend it as a beach read all the same. Engaging without being too intense and a good dose of mystery and romance. Looking forward to reading another one of her books soon.

 

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

For: Feminists and Short Story Lovers

I don’t typically go for short story collections since I tend to like a more cohesive story, but this one was recommended to me so many times I finally caved. I’m so glad I did because it’s amazing. It’s tough to read at times since so many of the stories deal with violence against women and toxic gender roles (so if you’re triggered by that stuff, I would skip this one), but Machado’s stories linger with you and completely defy your expectations. Definitely recommend.

 

Check out some of my other book reviews: Everything I Never Told You, Year of Yes, Big Little Lies, and Modern Lovers.

My Favorite Summer Beers, the Leggings I Bought at 4am, and the Latest Feminist Hashtag

My Favorite Summer Beers, the Leggings I Bought at 4am, and the Latest Feminist Hashtag

Happy weekend, everyone! I have to say it’s been a mix of a week: I hung out with my nephew and have some fun new blog projects in the works, but the job search was particularly tough this week. It’s so hard not to get […]