Welcome to lesson 5: “Life Skills You Didn’t Learn in School.” The final lesson in this series is the Power of Networking. I’ll admit, we’ve all probably heard at some point in school that networking is important, but it usually goes in one ear and out of the other. The truth is networking is just as important as earning a degree. Being able introduce yourself to managers, CEO’s, or anyone requires technique and experience. Having confidence, body language, and being able to connect through verbal communication with others is vital for successful networking and life.
Back in my college days the chairman of my graduate program used to threaten us students with (the test) which meant the elevator speech interview. This elevator interview was simple: He walks into the elevator from the third floor and the student is there ready to introduce themselves and pitch an idea to him before he leaves out of the building on the first floor. Although you may think this sounds easy, most people failed. The lesson behind this was to prepare students for the real world, in life, you may only have 45 seconds or less to make that perfect impression or to pitch that wonderful idea. Most managers and CEO’s don’t like small talk and prefer to see a combination of organized results, promptly.
Here’s a few real life scenario’s I was fortunate to be apart of.
- A random brief 40-second conversation at a career fair networking, which days later I received a $2,000.00 check.
- I experienced the elevator speech on my way out leaving an interview, which turned in a 20-minute conversation. (I got that job)
- Refinanced my car loan and saved around $4,000.00.
- I negotiated my auto insurance was able to refinance saving me over $2,000.00.
These are just some examples, but as you can see, being able to network can help you strive in a lot of areas of life; to getting a job, to earning more money, and even saving thousands of dollars in just a matter of minutes.
Here are some networking tips I’ve found very useful:
- Gain Experience – Attend several networking events, get involved and take lead roles in relevant organizations and non-profits for marketability, learn and understand the expectations of employers and more importantly be able to articulate what you are looking for and how they can help.
- Develop Genuine Conversations – Maintain consistent eye contact to show interest and wear the appropriate attire. Focus on building the relationship.
- Handy Information – Always keep a few (flawless) resumes or professional business cards (with a website link describing who you are) to give out after networking.
- Obtain Information – Ask for a business card for future reference and send a follow-up email thanking them for their time, perhaps you can get a tour or attend their next public meeting. Whatever you do show interest, if interested.
Remember “People don’t always get what they deserve in life, they get what they can negotiate.”
To finish up this series, I am leaving you with some quotes from Bill gates and Steve Jobs:
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Bill Gates
“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.” Bill Gates
“Until we’re educating every kid in a fantastic way, until every inner city is cleaned up, there is no shortage of things to do.” Bill Gates
“If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG.” Bill Gates
“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs
“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Steve Jobs
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs
“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.” Steve Jobs