Have you ever gone to a movie, and after watching it, came out thinking "Man, that guy is a bad actor! How did he get into movies?" or perhaps you loved a band, but then after seeing them play live thought, "My goodness they suck live! How did they ever get a record deal?" The answer? They have the right connections. Having the right kind of connections can mean the difference between getting the job of your dreams and getting the job that nobody wants. Many of us are under the impression that you need to come from wealthy families or need to be related to a CEO in a certain industry to have good connections. This is false. Anyone can find the connections that they need to get where they want to go. I'll give you an example. I have been looking for a specific type of public relations internship for some time now, and several weeks ago I went to a business seminar and listened to a successful business man talk about accounting. Accounting in no way relates to my field of interest, so you might think that this man would be a pointless connection to have, right? Wrong! After the seminar I thanked the gentleman for his good insight into accounting. He, being appreciative of my comment, said "thank you" and told me to contact him if I ever needed advice. I responded by saying that I am going into public relations, which is a field unrelated to him. He then said, "Oh? My son just graduated in Public Relations last year and did several internships before he graduated. He now works for a big corporation doing PR work in Salt Lake. He could probably give you some good advice. Let me give you his contact information." Well to make a long story short, I contacted his son, who was more than willing to give me advice. I thanked him for his advice and asked if he'd let me know of any internships that he'd hear about. He then told me that there is an internship available at his work that hasn't been posted on the web yet. He said, "if you're interested, I'll get you an interview with my boss." Just like that, I had a valuable connection that has lead me right into the internship that I had been looking for, and it all started by thanking someone and letting them know that I was looking for opportunities. It's that simple. you never know who people are connected to. I guarantee that you already know people, who know people that are doing what you want to do in life. Just because the person your connected to doesn't relate to your field, doesn't mean that they're not connected to someone who is.
Many of us believe that the best way to find jobs or internships is through looking on the internet. We are wrong to assume that. Did you know that 8% of employment opportunities are found through online job searching? Only 8 percent! 12% are found through other sources, but 80% of employment opportunities are found through your connections. They are found through networking (Talking to people in your circle of influence). So many people might say "Who cares how many friends you have on Facebook?" And I say, "If you have 500 friends on Facebook, and you let them know you're looking for a job, well now you have 500 hundred people keeping an eye out for possible jobs for you." Does that sound more effective then just 1 person looking for jobs online alone? I'd much rather have 500. But hey, as a side note, in my opinion, networking does seem to be the most effective when you tell people who you interact with face to face that you're looking for a job or a certain opportunity. I'm just sayin.
Oh but another side note about connections. "Give more than you receive (Brigham tomco, CEO of Zylun)." when you're in a network, you want to be a valuable part of it so that you don't get kicked out. You don't want to be seen as a leech that just drains your connections and never gives back. Don't make connections with the intention of "What can they do for me?" But instead think, "What can you do for them?" This will build a strong loyalty towards you, and you'll have people going out of their ways to help you out in any way they can. So next time you see that band live, and you can't fathom how they got a record deal, just know that anyone can do anything with the right connections.
By Joe Haycock
VP of Professional Development