Being connected is paramount for success in the 21st century, especially for a leading Generation-Y. Unfortunately, business and success is undoubtedly about whom you know, not what you know.
Despite having just graduated college and feeling duly prepared to start your new life, you might actually be far from nailing that job you thought you had in the bag.
You’ve built the foundation of your knowledge with a college degree, but it’s now up to you to build your network of business connections.
Networking takes two main approaches: virtual or face-to-face. It’s important to utilize both strategies to expand your professional network.
As you will learn from the list below, you might never even meet select connections in person, but the ability to resort to them as virtual resources and mentors has exponential advantages. Likewise, it’s imperative to have people you can rely on in person.
Here are the best ways to create and maintain connections.
Join various groups relevant to your industry, get in touch with fellow school alumni, use the introductions application, be a bit of a pest and go through some of your friend’s connections to see who they might know.
If you want to do a little more than that, I suggest joining groups for power networkers, – you might have seen the LinkedIn power users with (LION) at the end of their profile headline - which means they are open networkers and willing to connect with anyone.
Having your profile with 500+ connections is a good start for meeting new connections even quicker, as it shows that you already know a lot of people and people will like that.
You would be surprised by the caliber of people I’ve met via Twitter from a professional point of view. The hashtag is really under-utilized – most people just use it to keep up-to-date with popular and mundane events.
Instead, use Twitter the search facility to find hashtags relevant to your industry. You will be able to then find relevant users in the field, and you can then proceed to chat and bounce ideas off each other.
Family and Friends
Family and friends are often overlooked. We fail to realize that our best friend’s father is the CEO at a company in our desired industry, or our boyfriend’s uncle is head of HR at our dream company.
Chances are, someone in your network is able to introduce you to people who could be beneficial to you breaking into the industry. It's important to be able to reciprocate the helping hand, however.
People who just take and fail to give are quickly brushed aside. A successful networker will be able to give and take, not just take.
It seems there are tons of events out there, either through universities or the general public, to reach out and get yourself noticed. Note: Be sure to bring some business cards with you. They are such a small investment, with a big payoff.
As with anything in life, people will be quick to judge your approach and more often than not, assume their approach to being connected/networking is superior.
Instead, try and listen to what they say, take note and you just might learn something new! Improving the way you network should be an ongoing process.
It really is a dog-eat-dog world. No one is going to help you succeed. Lose that mentality before it destroys you. With unemployment levels at an all-time high, employers will be looking for graduates and those without university degrees with more to offer than those with -- be that person.
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Donnie Brasco.”
Lefty: [talking to Donnie] “When I introduce you, I'm gonna say, ‘This is a friend of mine.’ That means you're a connected guy. Now if I said instead, this is a friend of ours that would mean you a made guy. A Capiche?”
Top Photo Credit: Suits/USA Networks