Professional Networking Tips from Treatings

Hayden Williams is Co-Founder and CEO of Treatings. Treatings is a professional networking platform that facilitates one-on-one meetups over coffee. Prior to Treatings, Hayden spent four years as an investment banker at BofA Merrill Lynch. He graduated from Vanderbilt in 2008 with a degree in Economics and Corporate Strategy.

My first job out of college was in investment banking. While Vanderbilt’s Career Center was a great resource in securing the job, it was the individual relationships I’d built the summer after my junior year that were most helpful in deciding what I wanted to do.

I was living in New York doing an internship in Consulting. I realized that I didn’t want to work in Consulting after graduating, so I had to figure out an alternative career path. I started reaching out to all of the Vanderbilt alumni I could find who were working in roles I was interested in, asking people out for coffee so I could learn about their job.

The most helpful conversations I had were with junior people working at the level I would be starting in. I wasn’t looking for a job offer, just access to information about what certain roles were like and what types of people succeeded in them. I found it more difficult to find junior people than senior people. Young professionals aren’t prominently displayed on company websites and often don’t think to open themselves up on alumni networks. But, by the end of the summer I’d met enough people in investment banking that I decided the transferable financial skills I’d pick up as an Analyst would make for a good place to start my career.

Fast forward three years later and I was promoted to Associate. I had learned a lot and worked with great people, but realized that I didn’t want to remain in investment banking forever. I wasn’t passionate about the work and my skill set was getting narrower. I wanted to leave the finance industry and potentially work at a start-up, but I didn’t know how viable that would be given my lack of technical expertise.

My best friend (and now co-founder), Paul, was in a similar situation. We both wanted to leave our finance jobs, but didn’t want to blindly transition to a job that wouldn’t be a great fit. We wanted to talk to peers who had made career transitions we were interested in. I found that existing professional networking tools were helpful in documenting and leveraging my professional network, but not reaching outside of it. This was a problem because no one in my network worked at a start-up.

Paul and I decided there should be a professional networking equivalent to online dating sites, where people could go when they wanted to meet people outside their network. So, we quit our jobs to build Treatings, a local professional network where everyone is open to meeting over coffee to share ideas and opportunities.

The core value that Treatings offers is access to knowledge. We believe that people’s insights and career experiences have as much latent value as any physical good they own, so we’re always looking to reduce the friction of knowledge transfer.

We’re a peer-to-peer networking site. We don’t differentiate between “consumers” of knowledge and “producers” of it. Most people sign up for Treatings as a consumer, not imagining that people would be interested in their insights. People are often surprised and flattered to hear they can be a producer of knowledge when they are asked by fellow members to talk about their work. People have been using Treatings to find collaborators, meet people with shared interests and learn about new skills.

We have incorporated a filter into Treatings that makes it easy for NYU alumni and students to connect with each other. You can sign up for the platform and follow companies and skills you’re interested in. You’re then matched with other members based on shared interests and can propose coffee meetings with whomever you’d like.

We think networking should be a routine part of people’s lives, but it doesn’t have to be boring or formal. Treatings is all about taking conversations about your work out of the office. We hope you get the opportunity to meet fellow members of the NYU community over coffee (or the beverage of your choice!).

Sign up today! treatings.co

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