First things first I am going to tell you what it is so you don’t have to scour the page for my piece of advice: email and meet with a new person you have not met every two-three weeks.
I usually hate these types of posts/lists because they always have the same broad suggestions – Exercise, Eat Healthy, Sleep More, Network, Read a Book, Make To-Do Lists, blah, blah, blah. Those posts will also have a list of 42, 10, 99 or some random amount of suggestions, but seriously, who is going to remember anything from a list. And even if you did remember, no one has time to do any of that stuff and I personally am not trying to overhaul my life based off a blog. So I am not asking you to change your lifestyle, but hoping you would be open to adding an element to it. If you don’t think it is going to be worth it then skip to the WHY below.
It could be a variety of people, but it honestly depends if you want to further your career at your current occupation or learn about something different.
Someone at work: Great place to start and honestly the easiest. It can be anyone at the company whether its a different department, your bosses boss – ANYONE! Send them this exact email:
“Hello Mr. Jones,
My name is John Smith and I am currently a sales associate working on our enterprise solutions team. I have been at Blank Company for six months now and have learned a lot from my job so far. Recently I have been trying to figure out what exactly I want to do for a long term career and noticed you are working as a Product Manager.
I was wondering if you had any time in the next couple weeks if you would be free to grab a coffee or speak on the phone. I would value the opportunity to hear your insight.
Tell me the worst case from sending this email – they don’t respond. That doesn’t matter just send someone else the exact email.
Friend of your Parents, LinkedIn Person you Stalked, Siblings’ Friend, Friends’ Friend: All of these are great and you can contact them using literally the exact same email above. Just sit down, drink a coffee, start finding interesting people and email away!
Are you going to talk about? Good question! Be sure to do a little stalking before you meet them so you have a sense of their background. Then if you are a little nervous, don’t worry, just write down a bunch of questions on a piece of paper and bring it with you, just say you didn’t want to forget to ask anything. If you feel pretty comfortable about the situation then just go in there and make polite conversation, while asking a ton of questions. Here are some good questions:
What was your first job? How did you transition into this current job? What is the trajectory for your job? What is an average day for you? Google it if you want more examples!
During this time be sure to tell them about yourself including as many random personal details as possible so they remember you as “the kid from Dallas”, “the UCLA kid”, “the girl who has been to all 50 states”, whatever.
Ideally not in an office setting, so you can both be a little more relaxed. Personally, I recommend coffee or tea shops because it gets a little caffeine in you both and its a casual environment.
Every 2-3 weeks. Honestly it could be every week if you are feeling especially motivated, but when you are starting out it’s important to keep the goal manageable.
Extra Credit: After you speak with the person add their name to a list, write the date and a few notes about your conversation. Six months later send a follow up letting them know what you have been up to and ask the same of them. Do this twice and that person will respect your motivation and solidfy your relationship moving forward.
So many reasons. But most importantly because only good things can come of it.
Think about how flattered you would be if someone emailed you and said they want to be just like you in five years. I’m sure you would take the time to talk to that person and help them.
You will also learn what different types of jobs are out there so you can set yourself up for the future. These people you meet with may even become mentors for you and help you as you progress through your career.
If the person is at your company, it is also likely they will mention the initiative you took in reaching out and it will make you stand out among peers.
Ok after reading this you might be thinking, “what the hell! You are basically just telling us to network”, and fine you caught me. But the difference is that I just gave you explicit instructions on how to network.
Who: Someone at Work, Friend of your Parents, LinkedIn Person you Stalked, Siblings’ Friends, Friends’ Friends
What: Be prepared to have a normal discussion and ask them about their career
Where: Coffee/Tea Shop
When: Every 2-3 weeks
How: By reading this article
You have no excuse not to copy my sample email into your Evernote, iPhone Notes, Draft Emails or whatever new app you are trying and shoot off an email tomorrow morning. Please do it once, for me! Because if one person does it once then this article will have been worth it.