This weekend my husband and I were in a wealthier part of town, waiting at the barber for him to get his haircut. Everything was fairly normal, as a fifteen (maybe, sixteen) year old kid in a baseball uniform walked in, wrote his name on the list, then sat down next to an older gentleman. The older man asked about how the teams were doing this year, and explained that he knew his grandfather. They chatted back and forth, questions about summer plans, colleges and jobs were given and answered. Then my husband’s haircut was over and we left.
Once in the car, the husband looks over to me and says:
“There’s no wonder that a lot of kids from here get great jobs out of college. They learn to network at a very young age. Did you see that conversation being conducted?”
I did. And it’s true. Who knows who the older man might have been. The neighborhood we were in is known for hosting CEO’s of major businesses and other high level execs. Mr. Bill Gates even lives in the area. Here was a young teenage kid, talking about his goals and his future with a man who may be able to make things happen.
Not all of us get this practice. Even as adults. But networking has become essential, especially in the technological age. I’ve talked to experts in career coaching, HR and management, and all of them agree that if you have someone refer you to a job, you are over 50% more likely to get it. In a market teeming with well-educated individuals, that’s a big freaking deal.
My guess is, you’re starting to panic. Maybe your circle is small. You aren’t very active in social clubs and you’ve been at the same job for 20 years. What do you do?
I have a game for you. Well, a challenge, to be more precise.
THE NETWORKING CHALLENGE
Have you heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? It’s a game. One people would play watching movies where they would try to connect different actors/actresses to Kevin Bacon. If you could do it within six people, you won.
I use the Degrees of Kevin Bacon a lot, because it grabs people’s attentions and they engage more than if I simply talked about the degrees of separation concept. We are so close, possibly only six degrees, away from someone who could change our lives and we never even realize it.
So, here’s the challenge:
Pick someone you admire. It could be a celebrity, a speaker, a business person, etc. As long as it’s someone you don’t already know (like a family member) they’ll work for this game.
Now, ask everyone you know if they know that person, or if they know someone who might. Ask them to get you in touch. Then keep going until you reach the person you are looking for!
It’ll not only help you move forward in getting in touch with someone you admire, but you’ll be surprised the connections you make along the way! Be polite, respectful and willing to help others in this challenge! After all, we’re all in this together.
Tag your journey along the way with #thenetworkingchallenge
I want to keep up with your progress and see what you’ve learned about networking (or anything really).
You don’t have to know how to network from a young age. You just have to practice and start somewhere. This will be a good way for you to get the jitters out and see how small the world really is.