When people start finding success, they note how it becomes easier and easier to reach that same level of success in the future. A big part of that is the connections you make as people take note of your success. People like to help others be more successful – it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, since people often reciprocate in kind.
Recognizing this, I realized I had a problem. I don’t invest in meeting new people. Sure, I can work on my blog in a coffee shop next to other people on their laptops, but that hardly creates serendipitous encounters. Reading The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha only made this point more obvious. I don’t network nearly enough.
The Startup of You had many fantastic suggestions for managing your career, but one of my favorite ideas was that of the “Interesting People Fund.” This is a portion of your savings dedicated to meeting new, interesting people. For example, did you take someone in your field out to lunch to pick their brain? Take the cost out of your Interesting People Fund. Is there an interesting networking event a few towns over next week? Use your Interesting People Fund to pay for transportation and event costs.
Surprisingly, the biggest benefit of this kind of fund isn’t the financial resource. Something clicks in your mind when you start dedicating your resources towards the explicit goal of meeting interesting people. You begin to take networking more seriously. And when you do that, you begin to see the true value in it.
Meeting more interesting people is a win-win. The ROI on your Interesting Person Fund will likely be through the roof compared to that 7% return you saw on your stock portfolio last year. If even one of these interesting people points you towards a career-altering opportunity, it will have been worth all of the money you invested.
Homework? Create an Interesting People Fund, and start using it.
Last weekend I attended my alma mater’s alumni homecoming weekend. As part of this weekend, I signed up for a mentoring event within the business school. I was told that I could give a small presentation on a topic that the participating students would find valuable, and I was told I could choose one of a few different topics. The choices were “Networking Made Easy”, “Interviewing Tips”, or “Women in the Business World.” Obviously, I’m a little unqualified to speak about one of these topics, so it was a choice between interviewing and networking. Ultimately, I chose to speak about networking because of how pivotal it was for me finding my current job. Without the ridiculous amount of networking I did, I’d probably still be unemployed.
I’ll start this post by getting straight to the point and answering the question posed by the title. Ideally, a college student should start networking from DAY 1 of his/her freshman year, regardless of whether or not a major has been chosen. Practically speaking, every student should start NOW.
It is believed that roughly 20% of jobs available are ever advertised. This means that a whopping 80% of jobs are filled before the company decides to pay for a job ad. These positions are often filled by internal referrals. In other words, people who know individuals in a company get the opportunity to interview there long before a normal job hunter will even get to be aware of the position. And you better believe that the best jobs in the market are filled in this fashion.
So networking is important. But how do I do it right?
The key to networking is the same as creating and maintaining any friendship… Continue Reading…
Whenever I find it appropriate, I intend to have a “Best Reading From Around the Web” feature. This isn’t out of laziness or inability to keep consistently creating new material, but rather I’ve come to acknowledge that there are many valuable topics and ideas out there that I simply could not do justice to if I were to try and write about them myself. Rather than try and paraphrase or summarize the ideas of others, I’d rather send you directly to the source. This week’s theme is productivity and networking.
The Not-To-Do List 9 Habits to Stop Now/
How To Network With Busy People — Multiple Part Series
14 Simple Tips For Super Fast Web Browsing
Using an Energy Map to Find Peak Productivity Windows