Last week I had the opportunity to speak to 65 college sophomores at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. My topic, of course, was networking. My goal was to motivate them with my call to action: “pre-launch your career…start networking now.”
I emphasized that young professionals need to be just as good at networking off-line as they are on-line. Facebook does not replace networking. Rather it is merely another channel of communication and connecting.
Work on Purpose
I shared with the students at Trinity College a cool little book entitled Work on Purpose, exquisitely written by Lara Galinsky, Senior Vice President of Echoing Green. This book makes an excellent gift for high school and college graduates.
This book addresses the question: “I want a meaningful career—not just a job. But how do I get there?”
Work on Purpose shows you how to listen to your heart, use your head, and unleash your hustle, creating a career that positively impacts the world.
I fashioned my networking talk (entitled Network on Purpose) around the book’s success formula:
listen to your HEART + use your HEAD = unleash your HUSTLE
Everyone can hustle
Feedback from one insightful student with the initials C.J. gave me the inspiration to write this week’s networking tip focused around the concept of hustle.
C.J. wrote on his feedback form:
“Go farther in depth about the hustle aspect. Not everyone has the head and heart parts of your system in their arsenal. Everyone can hustle though.”
Isn’t that brilliant! I love it. Thank you C.J. for your inspiration and honesty.
What does hustle mean to you?
When you think of the word “hustle,” what comes to mind? Schemes? Dishonesty? A crazy line dance from the 1970’s (see video below). For the purposes of this article, I would like to focus your attention on this definition of hustle from the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary:
Hustle: a readiness to engage in daring or difficult activity.
Example: With his characteristic hustle, he had everything lined up in two days.
- Synonyms action, aggressiveness, ambition, drive, go, initiative
- Related Words grit, gumption, pluck, snap, spirit, spunk, ambitiousness, killer instinct, over-ambitiousness, assertiveness, self-reliance, energy, hardihood, pep, vigor, vitality
- Near Antonyms inactivity, inertia, passivity, faint-hardheartedness, timidity, hesitation, reluctance, indolence, laziness, lethargy
Who wouldn’t want to add words like hustle, spunk and vitality to their personal brand statement?
Add more hustle when your network
I am writing these next few tips especially for college students and young professionals; however, they may apply to you more seasoned professionals as well. We can all benefit from applying a little more hustle to our networking!
- Hustle your butt down to the Career Development Center at your college. Get to know the staff. Learn about their backgrounds and how they got to where they are today. Build a strong connection with them. Visit the Career Center often. Get involved. Be a familiar face. Tap into these highly valuable on-campus services.
- Tap into your Alumni Association. You have something in common with these folks – you went to the same school. They are more likely to want to help someone from their alma mater than a stranger. Spend some time reviewing the Alumni data base. If someone looks interesting to you, reach out to him/her and introduce yourself via LinkedIn, email and/or telephone. Use this opportunity to pick their brains.
- If your college offers a mentoring program, hustle up and sign up. The mentoring process allows you to build a close, lasting relationship with someone who can not only advise and coach you, but may be able to open doors to other influential people and job opportunity. Don’t be shy, get a mentor.
- Try your hand at speed networking, the business equivalent to speed dating. You will have the opportunity to make lots of connections in a short period of time and you’ll benefit from the practice. Follow up with the people that you connect with after the event (be sure to exchange contact information). Business cards come in handy for this!
- Experience informational interviewing. This is a great way to learn about different fields and work environments (it’s like shopping for your career, but you don’t actually have to buy anything). You will also have the opportunity to build a closer connection with a working professional. Remember that informational interviews are NOT job interviews, but sometimes they can lead to the same outcome – job opportunities. Dress for success. Ask tons of questions. Remember to follow up and show your appreciation! Need more help – read this past blog post http://networkingahead.com/networking-how-to-informational-interviewing/
- Get yourself a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is the professional networking site and most employers and working professionals will look for you on that web site. Make sure you upload a photo of yourself and start to populate it with current connections. Check in once daily to see if there are people that you know and want to connect with . ALWAYS write a short, personal message when sending a LinkedIn invitation. Note: Facebook does not serve the same purpose as LinkedIn. You will need both – one for your personal life and one for professional life. Start building your professional network today by opening a (free) LinkedIn account!
- Power down and look around. Put down your mobile device and start looking and smiling at people. Say hello. Strike up a small conversation. Do a good deed for a stranger. Observe what’s going on all around you. With so many electronic distractions at our finger tips, many of us are walking around (and driving) with our heads down, focused on small screens of text and pictures. We are engaged with media and people using a technology interface. We feel connected, but we are becoming more and more disconnected from the world around us. We are so mesmerized by technology that we are ignoring the very real people who are with or near us (often times our immediate family and loved ones.) Hustle up and find that power down key. Spend more time engaging with people live and in person. That will help sharpen your networking skills, more so than the latest App.
- Conversational skills are something that every young person needs to develop. It takes practice. It takes courage. High school students are quick to criticize their peers if they say the wrong thing, wear the wrong brand or speak with the wrong person. Conformity is king in high school. But once you enter college and the working world, individuality overpowers conformity as a desirable characteristic.
- Positive energy is an attractive force and one that often leads to job offers. Not so for people with low energy, who drag themselves out of bed and look and act bored and disinterested all the time. Without positive energy, you risk projecting an image of lazy and disengaged. “Lazy makes me crazy” and I don’t want to hire or work with people who are lazy. In contrast, people with the get-up-and-go factor are exciting to be with. People with a zest for life and a willingness to exert some energy and enthusiasm for the task at hand, even if you don’t want to do it. That’s hustle. Find it within yourself.
- When all else fails, learn to do The Hustle.
(how to) Do the Hustle
I found this goofy, but popular, video on YouTube which shows you step by step how to dance The Hustle. This instructional dance video has 1.6 million views with 3,500+ likes. Wow! Did you know that The Hustle was originally performed and recorded by Van McCoy & the Soul City Symphony in 1975? What a great song; what a catchy beat. Makes you want to get up and shake your …hustle!
Your Networking Tip for the Week
This week, I want you to show more hustle when you network. Move more quickly. Get and go to a networking event. Smile, talk, connect. If you need more energy, do some push ups, take a brisk walk or run around the block or drink an extra cup of coffee, Whatever it takes to energize and activate yourself. What should you be doing now to strengthen and expand your network? It won’t happen if you hold yourself back and move like a slug. Ready yourself to engage in a daring or difficult activity. Unleash your hustle to accomplish your dreams and goal. Do the hustle!