With over 70% of all jobs being filled through personal contacts and networking, networking is clearly the #1 job search strategy. However, you may be thinking, “Why would someone want to help me, especially if I am not able to do anything for them?”
Consider this… Did you ever have a lemonade stand as a child?
As a boy, my younger brother and I would have lemonade stands every summer as a way to make extra cash. We would set up a table and chairs on the corner of the street we lived on in the suburbs of Long Island, NY, and people would always stop and buy our lemonade.
Now, did people buy our product because they were so thirsty that they could not wait to get to their final destination to grab something to drink? Nope.
Did they purchase our lemonade because it was so delicious that they could not resist it? Nope. It really wasn’t that good!
Instead, people bought our lemonade because of something I have coined “The Lemonade Stand Principle,” which contains 4 lessons for your career:
1. Enthusiasm is magnetic. Because we were so excited about our lemonade stand, my brother and I inspired people to help us (by buying our product). As a job-seeker (or as a salesperson or entrepreneur), you must have that same passion about your current or future career goals. If you do, people will be motivated to help you. If not, networking will not work!
2. Youth is an advantage in business. How do you think I would do now if I set up a lemonade stand on the corner of the street I grew up on? I doubt that many people would stop and support me now (at the age of 29), even if they had supported my lemonade stand when I was a boy. The message is that youth is a huge advantage when you are trying to achieve anything. As you get older, people will feel less and less inclined to help you without getting anything in return. Use your youth to your advantage, and do not feel guilty about it. You can return the favor in the future.
3. We love to help people who remind us of ourselves. Successful older executives LOVE ambitious students and young professionals. When looking at you, older execs see who they were 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago. They remember the challenges they went through at the start of their careers, and they remember how other people helped them get started. If you approach people the right way, you will be amazed at who will support you. This happened to me when I looked for a job as a 21 year-old student. It also happened when I started my business 2 years ago at the age of 27.
4. It feels good to help others. Older professionals often tell me that the joy they receive in knowing they helped a student or young professional is the only “payment” they need. You should still always try to return a favor. However, understand that by thanking someone for their support and by taking action on their advice, you give the greatest gift of all: appreciation.
You don’t have to go through any journey alone! You will be amazed at who will help you when you approach people the right way.
Do you have a story of how someone helped you in your career without expecting anything in return? If so, please comment below.
-Career Expert and Professional Speaker
-President of Idealize Enterprises
P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide. To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.