Let me preface this post with this. In order to maximize your success, you need a mentor. Read up on how to get one and then actually put in the leg-work. Part one of this series talked about building your network. Use those principles when finding a mentor as well.
Part Two – You have to want it.
This is where the fun begins. Now, keep in mind, you aren’t going to build a network overnight. It’s going to take some time. I’ve been working on my network since November and I haven’t even scratched the surface. But it’s getting there. Make time to bring meaning to the lives of people in your network. It comes full circle.
Before I went to SXSW, I made a list of people I wanted to see speak and people I wanted to meet. I followed them on Twitter, friended them on Facebook and asked if they would have time to grab a drink in between sessions. Out of all the people I contacted, I actually met up with a good deal of them, probably half.
Connections lead to conversations which lead to opportunities for employment. It all comes down to this: you have to want it. I could tell you my story and go through the exact details but I think that knowing what you want will lead you to success.
First, you have to know what you want before you can want it.
1. Make a list. Everything you’re good at. Everything you suck at. Things you are working on. Things that cannot be fixed. Be honest with yourself. Make it like a pros and cons list. Pros and cons of why someone should hire you. If you lie about your talents, this exercise is null and void and won’t help you. But if you sit down and think about it, I mean, really get critical, you will learn something about yourself. And learning about yourself is always a great thing.
2. Write up a job description. I took my list of everything I was good at and wrote a job description based on my qualities. It really helped me visualize my dream position. It also helped me realize what areas I need to work on developing while I get ready to be hire-able. Example: I want to know more about Photoshop, so I took on an internship with my friend who is a photographer and I help him do his post-production work.
3. Don’t settle. So many of us (graduates, or soon-to-be) are scrambling to find a job for after graduation. That means we settle for whatever we can get to escape the panic attacks that come with the thought of being unemployed. As long as you have a way to keep a roof over your head, don’t settle. If you’re in an industry like PR, oftentimes it’s an internship that opens doors to full-time employment. If you can swing an internship and still keep yourself fed, do it. Just because you aren’t paid a lot (or at all) doesn’t mean you aren’t working. I even hesitate to call internships by that because the intern part should only refer to the pay scale, not what you can do. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. Example: I’m going up to Chicago next weekend in search of a bar that will hire me so I can supplement my intern income.
4. Earmuffs around the negative people. Don’t succumb to their doubts. If you are given an opportunity that you know can do wonders for you professionally, take it, prepare for it, and then run with it. And don’t you dare stop and turn around. Be confident in yourself enough to know that you make good decisions.
5. Decide on something and own it. Because you have to believe it. If you want to make it happen you have to just do it. Is it scary? You betcha. But you can’t let the fear squash your opportunities for success. I know I’ll be employed as an intern until December 4th. My parents think I should sublet in case it doesn’t work out. It’s going to work out. Whether or not it’s with the company I’m interning at, who knows, but I am committed to my career and am committed to making something of myself. If I went up there and half-assed it, I wouldn’t get hired, guaranteed. But because I’m doing this, really doing this, I am confident that someone will want me on board full-time by December.
With all of that in mind, once you know what you want and you decide to go find it, a mentor can help you reach out to people. Having a professional in the industry who knows your work and knows you personally puts you at a great advantage, and the reasons why are pretty obvious.
Do you know what you want? Does it change? Did you settle for the position you’re in now or is it your dream job?