To succeed in your career, you need to be able to network with other people and go beyond your comfort zones. In July 2020 I wrote an essay on this topic. This article is an updated version of the original.
Steve Jobs, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) co-founder, tells the story of a time when he was a high-school student and asked Bill Hewlett to give him spare parts to build a Frequency Counter. Jobs not only got the spare parts but also landed a job as a summer worker on an assembly line in a Hewlett-Packard plant manufacturing frequency counters.
Jobs stated during the interview that he had never met anyone who said no to me or hung up on the phone. I asked. The majority of people don't call or pick up the telephone, and they never ask. You must be prepared to fail.
Most people would not be comfortable asking for help from the CEO of a technology company, as Jobs did.
When I introduced a student from Drexel University’s Pennoni Honors College with a C-suite Executive at eBay, the power of networking and stepping out of one's comfort zones became very clear to me.
After speaking to a group Pennoni students during a lunch and learn event on how to become effective leaders in their career progression, one student who majored in marketing introduced himself and shared her desire to work in Silicon Valley upon graduation. She asked me whether I knew of anyone in the field or location she was interested in networking with.
Richelle Parham (a Drexel graduate and eBay's chief marketing officer at the time) was the first person I thought of. I met her the year before. I was able to connect the student with Parham within hours.
The only student who asked me for assistance was this one. The introduction would never have happened if the student had not taken initiative. She accepted the rejection. The worst thing I could have done was to say 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but I can't.
People you know from your network can help you find many jobs. You never know when your network will be needed to help you find a job.
You can meet new people through networking, learn about new perspectives and ideas, and find new ways to solve problems. It allows you to compare yourself with others and share best practices in your field. The networking process creates communities of people who share similar interests.
How can you develop these skills effectively?
Make meaningful connections with fewer people than with many.
You can use the email address of people you met to tell them how much you liked talking with them. Include something you discussed in your email to make yourself memorable and different from others you met on that particular day. Help those you met when the opportunity arises. You will be reciprocated by them.
You can use networking to advance your career no matter if you're a student, a mid-level manager, a business owner, or the CEO of a firm. You will also improve your interpersonal skills. All students should learn and practice networking, no matter what their field of study is.
Steve Jobs once said: "That's what makes the difference between people who do things and those that only dream about them." Break out of your comfort zones. Introduce yourself to a new person. You'll never know when a new opportunity will arise.