Relationships are extremely important for career development in any industry. Whether it’s fair or not, who you know can open more doors than what you know or what you can do.
Getting started is the hardest part of building a strong network. Especially if your Dad’s best friend isn’t a Partner at a VC firm or you didn’t go to an ivy league school.
After graduating I wanted to work in investment banking. Without a degree from an ivy league school it was like pushing a boulder up a hill. Despite my extensive independent study and undoubted ability to perform, I was not even in consideration.
I hustled my way in through introductions from people I knew outside of finance to people in the industry, a ton of cold outreach, and “warm” outreach to my college’s (small and mediocre) alumni network.
Eventually I convinced a small firm to take a chance on me. They made the right choice of course 🙂
I then hustled my way into the startup world. Another highly competitive field. Especially for the elusive and scarce “business” jobs. And again with very few strong connections. This time I relied on going to events and classes, an even smaller number of introductions from my network, and a bit of cold outreach.
I found it significantly easier to build a network from scratch in the startup world. It’s an amazing community of people.
How to build a network from scratch: 1) Ask people you’re close with (friends, family, family friends, etc.) for advice and introductions. 2) Ask the people you meet through your first connections for more advice and introductions. 3) Send thoughtful and personalized cold e-mails to people in the industry who you can help and would want to meet you. 4) Reach out to your university’s alumni network. Ask them for advice and introductions. And so on...
Once you have a base level network, it gets much easier to keep building. It’s easier to be helpful by making introductions for people because you know more people. The people you know will introduce you to more people. And those people will introduce you to more people. It builds exponentially. It’s really pretty wild to trace back how I met some of the people I know.
To learn more about networking, check out my video course, How to Build an Awesome Professional Network.