We've all heard it. “It's not what you know, it's who you know.”
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It sounds great but what does that really entail?
See college believes that you should be knee high in homework yet one of the most important factors of intelligence and wisdom is OTHER people. College is incredibly difficult with balancing school, friends, family, work and the daunting idea of the future. However, there are some really easy and applicable ways to network with employers, celebrities and icons if you just take the time to do it correctly.
If you want to rise above your classmates and network with people they can't, then follow these steps to make incredible connections.
STEP #1) GO TO COLLEGE EVENTS
Your college puts on hundreds of events that you don't even know about. Check out the career center, clubs and especially calendars. One thing I've learned is that people LOVE to brag. This is good because it means they come to colleges to talk about their success. Find events and GO! You'll never know who you'll meet.
My experience #1: I had signed up for emails from a club called SEBN (Sports and Entertainment Business Network) Committee and one day I got an email about Lauren Berger, known as the Intern Queen a Business Week Magazine listee of Young Entrepreneurs 25 Under 25. The email said Lauren was speaking the following night on campus and it was free for students! Though I was swamped in homework, I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass me by.
My experience #2: UCLA is filled with advertisements, signs and people trying to get MY attention. It makes me kind of feel good that they're competing against each other for me, too bad it's because they want my money… So walking to class one day, I saw signs and flyers that UCLA was putting on an Entertainment Networking (Alumni) Night…woah! I was pretty psyched! And so it was another night I blocked out for unknown networking opportunities.
STEP #2) LISTEN TO THEIR STORY
If they're giving a speech, listen! Take notes if needed but more importantly, get excited from their experiences and success. Become inspired! If they're not the giving a speech, go find out about their story!
My experience #1 (cont.): Lauren Berger was an amazing speaker! Her story really did inspire me and I couldn't stop smiling. She gave me the motivation to work hard and get what I want. She talked about all her awesome intern experiences and told us how she became so sought after.
My experience #2 (cont.): The Entertainment Networking Night was only three hours long and there were hundreds of alumni there! There were alumni who worked for Disney, Universal, America's Got Talents, MTV and more. I sat down at tables, introduced myself and listened to their stories. I was once again amazed at how these UCLA alumni who were once in my position and became so successful.
STEP #3) ASK QUESTIONS
Ask questions – pretty self explanatory! However, don't ask mediocre questions or even great questions, ask amazing and epic questions! You want them to remember you. But remember to ask honestly, ask what you really want to know — just make sure to craft the question just right.
Ex. DO NOT ASK: How did you start off at Disney?
Ex. ASK: What specific talents, connections and edges did you have that Disney saw in you and how did you prove yourself valuable?
My experience #1 (cont.): When it was time for Q&A, I raised my hand immediately and asked something along the lines of how being a young freshman would affect internship opportunities. I showed my vulnerability and allowed her to see my determination as fresh meat. The rest of the night, she referred back to me when questions were similar as her “freshman friend.” Hey, she didn't know my name but it was a start!
My experience #2 (cont): There was such limited time that I didn't get many questions in but the ones I did get in, produced a great result. I found out how they climbed the business ladders and the Universal employers even told me they were actively looking for internships. DING! Hello…I AM YOUR GIRL!
STEP #4) WOW THEM
This is usually the hardest. How do you make them leave remembering you? It happens to be different in every situation but you have to put your best foot forward. Go out of your way to thank them, ask for more advice, attend more of their events and show your personality!
My experience #1 (cont.): I followed up the event with the Lauren, the Intern Queen with some more “wow-able” questions. I found out that she would be holding another event the next week with other business moguls. So obviously I went and the event was amazing! I met so many other great people and networked by following these 8 steps. When I bumped in to Lauren, she recognized me and thanked ME for coming. I told her how much I enjoyed her speech the other night and then I enjoyed networking with others the rest of the night. I also won a years free of haircuts that night from Aveda in Westwood, CA — my night was made! Haha. You'll truly never know what opportunities arise unless you GO.
My experience #2 (cont.): I'm not going to lie, with so many people at this event, it was hard to a give a “wow” moment. I did however make some great connections by talking and really getting to know the employers. Since we both have UCLA in common, I used that to my advantage and befriended many of them.
STEP #5) GIVE RESUME AND/OR GET CONTACT INFO
This is really important! If they can't contact you or if you can't contact them, your connection is severed, a lot. Unless you bump into them again, they may never remember you. ASK if it's okay to give them your resume, never be too pushy about it. If they aren't accepting resumes, you don't need to give a resume or just find it easier, ask them if you can have their contact info or business card. They're usually pretty willing to give out their work email.
My experience #1 (cont.): Lauren told us right off the bat that you can contact her anytime. She said her contact info was on her website and that her email address went straight to her phone — perfect! Also, when I was at her event the next week I had met her intern and befriended her. I gave my resume to her intern, for no reason actually but who knows whose hands it could end up in, and swapped contact info with Lauren's intern. She told me how Intern Queen was looking for campus ambassadors and emailed me the info the next day — guess what? I became 1 of 2 UCLA campus ambassadors the next week. The other campus ambassador also attended both events put on my Lauren….hmmm coincidence? No!
My experience #2 (cont.): I was able to give my resume to everyone that I talked to. I also got my business cards and some even wrote down my name. Overall, I left feeling very excited and confident!
STEP #6) EMAIL THEM IMMEDIATELY
This is another crucial step. Immediately after the event, go home and contact them (email is best). You want them to remember your name and your face, so email them as soon as you can. Thank them for their time, tell them what you enjoyed, comment on how you would love to meet again or how you'd like work/intern for them. Don't ask them for too many favors. Keep it light, remember you're building a relationship.
My experience #1 (cont.): I emailed Lauren right after her first event and thanked her. I asked how I could best utilize the opportunities at her next event. Unfortunately, I never got a response, but that's OKAY! (Just follow up.) I knew I would see her at the event. I did email all the other important people I met at the event including Lauren's intern and because of that, I made more contacts and I am now part of the Intern Queen family! Wooh!
My experience #2 (cont.): I emailed all the contacts I had made the hours prior and once again thanked them and asked for more information on their internships programs. I received most of my responses back within the next few days but some people didn't respond back until a month or two later. So don't discouraged if they don't email you back immediately – that's your job, not theirs.
STEP #7) FOLLOW UP AND KEEP IN TOUCH
If they email you back, follow up. If they don't email you back, follow up. Simple as that. Also if you don't pursue a contact in any way, make sure you keep in touch with a little hello or some relevant information. They may have other contacts that could change your life. Network, network, network!
My experience #1 (cont.): Luckily, since I'm a UCLA ambassador for Intern Queen, I get to keep in touch with Lauren on a day to day basis as well as all her other campus ambassadors and interns. I know so many people who know people who know people — it's crazy. And because I talk to everyone regularly, I'm able to learn of different contacts.
My experience #2 (cont.): For the email responses I never received, I followed up. America's Got Talent's casting director never emailed me back so I emailed her again, letting her know that I had sent an email but also mentioned how busy she must be. She got back to me that day.
STEP #8) REPEAT
Once you've built a great relationship with a contact and have networked with them as much as you can. Repeat the steps! You can never know too many people and more contacts will only help you. Get your name out there and never stop!
My End Result: From the two experiences I've written about, I've collected many business cards and contacts including those of Intern Queen, Universal, America's Got Talent, Reveille, Berman Braun, etc. I have contact info that people would pay for — and these business cards are just chilling in my dorm room. You don't have to be famous to network with famous people…you can actually just be a regular college student.
Remember, it's not about making a quick connection, it's about making a strong and valuable connection.
BE BOLD. GO NETWORK. GET RICH IN COLLEGE.
What would you add to this list and what have been your experiences? I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments!