Henry Hokura via LinkedIn.com

Henry Hokura via LinkedIn.com

(Editor’s Note: Henry Hokura wrote this post to reflect his experiences and learning while on #EntreTechNYC, a one-week, intensive immersion course and startup roadtrip in New York. Henry is a student at the iSchool at Syracuse, working toward a BS in Information Management Technology.

Henry notes how Syracuse has a unique curriculum called “Scholarship in Action,” and he’s taking that theme to heart–taking what is learned in the class and applying it in the real world, in his case, applying lessons to various organizations he is involved in across campus. He is a resident advisor at SU and a recipient of a Posse Foundation full tuition leadership scholarship.

The Experience

I have always considered myself a social guy. I never had a problem initiating and maintaining conversation. That was, until I got to foursquare. We got the opportunity to meet with more than 40 alumni and to network with them.

I soon noticed that I began to get feelings of anxiety. As people started to filter in, I could see the bright faces light up to see the legacy that they left behind. My classmates seemed to be excited to meet with the alums also. Soon after, without hesitation, the toast was made and it was time to “network.”


On s startup visit in NYC – photo by Julie Walas Huynh

Networking Anxiety

As I approach the food area putting an array of finger foods on my plate, I was approached by all different kinds of alumni. Sometimes personal space boundaries were broken, sometimes conversations went stale, or sometimes it ended it clueless stares.

However, a common theme seemed to be that the alumni in New York have no problem being up and personal with you. It was after around five different conversations that I became discouraged. I started to perspire, then overthink, and that made me lose focus. I used the bathroom to retreat. I decided to just give up, but if there is anything we learn on the trip that is to never give up.

Back in the Game

It did not take long before [advisors] Julie and John, seeing my distress, came up to me. I told them what I was feeling and they gave me so much feedback on how to get back in there to network. One alumnus who came up and spoke to me influenced me the most in my situation that night. He was an Entretech alum who’d had a similar experience while networking years back. After about ten minutes I decided to get up again and stick it out until the end. Before I knew it, we had to go, and the best part was that I had made some connections.

One of our startup visits

One of our startup visits

Words of Advice

Networking is not the same as speaking to friends, professors, etc. It is a special kind of conversation that in my opinion mimics speed dating. It will be hard at first, but the best thing that was brought to my attention is that you lose nothing from doing it.

The Syracuse alumni network is extremely well-connected in the city. The city is also a small world. Do not get too comfortable in talking to people who you relate to; also start talking to people from all different backgrounds. You can only get better with experience.

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EntreTech group 2015

Out of everyone I met on this trip, no one can deny that you can have all of the skills in the world, but if you do not know how to talk to people, then you will not go far. Never waste an opportunity to connect. Network on, people!