As a college student on the brink of graduation, or someone considering making a career change, landing that new opportunity can be a huge undertaking. From unanswered emails to crafting cover letter after cover letter, the challenge of getting noticed gets discouraging fast. So what can you do? Leverage your relationships.
Last night I had the pleasure to attend the 3rd Annual Professional Development Initiative Forum at my alma mater, Saint Anselm College. The evening is designed to welcome past alumni back to campus so that students can meet those currently in the workforce and gain advice on how to best approach life after college. With alumni representing nearly every major and industry, it was a wonderful opportunity for students to make connections, ask questions, and network with business professionals that were once in their shoes.
When looking for a job everyone is quick to say “it’s all about who you know” and at the end of the day, it’s true. Some estimates say that nearly 85% of jobs are obtained through networking and personal relationships. Whether sifting through LinkedIn and making as many connections as possible or staying in touch with an old employer, you truly never know who may open the next door for you. Certainly, as in the case of the PDI event, a tight-knit alumni network is just one example of a common trait that can spark a conversation and ultimately build a relationship.
The world is a huge place yet frequently enough, we are reminded of how small it really is. It may be a friend of a friend, an old coworker, or a former teammate, but maintaining your personal connections is the key to the door of opportunity. There are so many ways in which people pay it forward every day in the workforce, by sending a resume through, writing a reference letter or even just offering a piece of advice – the right person might be one conversation away.
This concept of expanding your inner circle and maintaining relationships is more than just a benefit when searching or landing a job, but also in keeping one. If you are an employee that is bringing in new business through personal connections, sustaining referral partners, the master of networking events, or focused on keeping current clientele satisfied, nurturing relationships and trust will allow you to set yourself apart. Despite the target audience a company may be trying to captivate, at the end of the day, we’re all people. As consumers, we all want to work with someone we can relate to, rely on and not feel as though we are a mere “transaction”. Putting in both the time and effort to cultivate relationships – ensuring a little give and take along the way – is guaranteed to pave the way for a career path you truly want.
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