The vicious cycle of being unable to get work experience due to the lack of work experience that young people today keep finding themselves in, follows the same unfortunate logic as networking failures. How can you start building a network sans any contacts? My name is Jeremy Powers and this post will hopefully help you begin to solve that problem.
The first thing you need to understand is that not getting out there in any way and not meeting people would get you absolutely nowhere. Networking is important, especially in today’s globally connected world. However, you need to be smart about it and not waste time on pointless networking. But how do you know if it’s pointless?
Building a Network
The answer to that question is simple – it’s only pointless if you get the contact information of a person and never use it again. It’s likely that a lot of people you meet at industry networking events would have something to offer your business, whether it’s revenue, a new supplier, or simply some tips and industry insight. However, you need to make the effort to connect with these people – not just at the event, but also afterwards. Take advantage of LinkedIn and other social media, or simply e-mails.
Meeting people at events, however, is just the first step. If you’re one of the people stuck in the circle of not having contacts to build a network that I mentioned earlier, you would likely want to find a good mentor, or even an investor. You might get lucky and meet such a person at an industry event, but most of the time, such connections don’t form that way. Instead, I suggest that you take advantage of the people that you do meet at these events and find out whether they can introduce you to a potential mentor or an investor. So instead of trying to go to as many events as possible in order to talk to everyone who’s anyone, I advise you to work on building business relationships with a few people that might eventually lead somewhere.
Strong Online Presence
It sounds easy doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that impression is misleading. A mentor would want to see that you have some business potential before he or she decides to invest their time and money in you. In order to do that, you need to have at least a semblance of a network. I’ve told you that you can start building a network by attending industry events, but really, there are many ways you can do so that vary from one industry to another. For example, quite a few industries today have a massive online presence and hundreds of forums dedicated to them. Select one or two forums with active message boards and start posting relevant content to get noticed. Another thing you can do is to participate in contests hosted by large industry players – some of those might qualify as networking events, but they can work in many different ways.
To be quite honest, you’re unlikely to get anything out of networking if you do it just for the sake of getting noticed. You might get lucky, but that only happens to perhaps one person out of 50, if that. In order to get results and start forming your own personal network, you need to work hard. I understand if you want to invest all your time in creating new products, particularly if you run a one-person shop, but there’s little point in creating a product if it’s not going to see the light of the day. And the best way to achieve that goal is for you to see the light of the day and get people interested in you.