In an article posted on LinkedIn titled, “Did Skipping That Cup of Coffee Just Cost You a Million Dollars?” Bobbi Klein, a professor from my alma mater, wrote about the importance of networking. Reading her post was just another reminder that joining the Orr Fellowship, with its invaluable network, is one of the best decisions a graduate can make.
The article begins with a thought many of us have had at some point in our lives: “Networking is a hassle, never works out and takes valuable time away from the ten million other things I have to do.” But in this day and age, think how often we hear about the importance of networking, connecting through all social media facets, the “six degrees of separation,” etc. We hear this over and over again from people who truly understand that it’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference.
When Klein acknowledges this value in the “cup of coffee”, she’s actually talking about the individuals holding the cup. “When we meet with others, we need to be in the mindset that this is a million dollar client, and he should therefore get our full attention.” While this article was primarily about connecting for business purposes, its overall message regarding networking can apply to all of us. It’s important to have the mindset that the people we meet and interact with could be the keys that unlock the door to that ‘million-dollar’ job, goal, or dream.
In college, I wasn’t one who jumped into my business attire to attend career fairs or networking events, but one of my favorite professors used to say, “Do what you don’t want to do now, so you can do what you want to do later.” We live in a society of instant gratification–you want an answer, Google it; you want to share a picture, upload it; you want a hot meal, push start on the microwave; you want to do [fill in the blank] on your phone, find an app that does just that! Living in a state of immediacy has caused many people to forget that achieving success–whether it’s landing a job after graduation, becoming the vice president of a company, or starting your own business–takes time, hard work, patience, and often a long list of contacts. Personally, if I hadn’t attended one career fair in particular, I wouldn’t have had one of my internships, and if I hadn’t stayed in contact with the professor who recommended me to the Orr Fellowship, I probably wouldn’t have the job that I do today.
Even after landing a job and graduating from college, I know the importance of networking will always remain. Being part of the Orr Fellowship truly provides me with an invaluable network through executive-level mentorship, monthly Business Leader Meetings, and camaraderie with remarkably talented peers. Right now, I have 48 colleagues in the Fellowship alone that I could reach out to with an idea, a request for an introduction on LinkedIn, a meeting for coffee, etc.—and that’s not even including the Board of Directors. We are here to help each other succeed and I am so excited to see what the future unfolds.
So that ‘cup of coffee’—that networking event, that interview you’re so nervous about, that meeting you’re required to attend—could be your chance to meet that “golden” connection. Any moment or connection can change your life; you just have to be there.
Below are the summaries of Klein’s steps for finding your “golden connection”:
1. Reach Out to Those Closest to You
These are the people who will fall over themselves trying to send business, encouragement and ideas your way.
2. Screw Your Courage to the Sticking Place and Call
Once someone has given you the name and contact information of a person in their network, the ball is now in your court to make things happen, so do it!
3. Get your Coffee On!
…Or whatever beverage or snack of your choice and be flexible about where and when. Networking can happen anywhere and everywhere.
4. Don’t Rush This
You should be truly connecting and learning about another person and let the conversation happen as naturally as possible.
5. Mind Your P’s and Q’s
After the meeting, you want to follow up and thank both your trusted connection and the person they hooked you up with whether it’s through e-mail, a phone call, or a hand written note.