Just the other day I was asked what sort of career advice I would give to my 20-year-old self or what would be one suggestion I would tell those who are fresh out of college and looking to kickstart their career. I’m sure there’s a long checklist of criteria graduates set themselves, particularly around academic achievements as that’s one of the few measurable aspects of your life prior to stepping into the professional world. As I said in my earlier post, When Your GPA Doesn’t Matter, I was definitely not the highest performing student and while it can push you out on top in a number of industries, I’ve found that the network and relationships I established early on impacted my own career much more than my grades ever would. (Tweet This)
Relationships are the foundation upon which two parties build trust and I’ve learnt not to discriminate with whom I build these with. Whether it’s the CEO you meet at a networking event or the younger college freshman who plays on the same sporting team; both relationships are worthwhile building. While senior executives can offer years of practical knowledge, on multiple occasions, younger less experienced connections have given me fresh perspectives to tackle challenges or given me new and inspiring ideas. In fact, some of the smartest, most thought provoking people I’ve come across in my industry and have had the pleasure to have a coffee with are quite a few years younger than me which later led me to a fantastic job opportunity.
Later on in my career, I learnt that spending time building and nurturing these relationships delivered results for me as well. As Ted Rubin says, ‘Don’t try to sell until you’ve earned their trust’, which definitely applied to my relationships with clients but equally applicable to those who you seek help from.
Relationships are a two-way street – be authentic and personal to nurture them long-term (Tweet This)
It’s important to remember that relationships are a two way street – where the end objective is not only to seek out favours and advice when you feel you need their help but being genuinely interested in who the other person is and what they do (Tweet This). It’s about nurturing these professional relationships which, in many instances can even become friendships. Whether this is through traditional methods of face-to-face meetings and exchanging of business cards at events or simply talking to someone halfway across the road on social channels like LinkedIn and Twitter – initiating these discussions and keeping in touch with these people is key to starting your network. The bottom line is taking the time to be authentic and personal with your communication. Success, advice and everything else will come naturally.
If you’re completely new to this – don’t be nervous. Start with someone closer to home, in your school or the current company you’re working for, and grab a coffee with them. Just ask yourself how you can help them or perhaps how you can learn from them!
Photo Credit: David Conch Condon/Flickr