The Millennial’s Guide to Landing Your Dream Job

Just finished the first version of this online course, which has additional content and is much easier to follow along with than the post below. Free for the first 100 students (otherwise it will be $5) — check it out.

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Who is this for?

While this guide can be used by anyone at any career point, I’m particularly slanting this towards millennials that are recent college graduates (or approaching graduation) from the ages of 21–25 that are looking for their first salaried and high-quality job.

I feel that my experiences will be very relatable amongst many millennials.

In December of 2012, I was graduating college and about to start a new full-time job for a large and very well-respected company. Life was great. I realized that I was very fortunate to be given this opportunity.

Then I actually started the job. Life instantly became abysmal. I loathed the work itself.

I then felt my whole life that I was lied to by everyone that supposedly cared about me: teachers, guidance counselors, friends, and even my parents. I interpreted their messages over the years as the following:

Work hard in high school to get into a good college. Then work hard in college to get a good job. Success achieved. Life is easy.

Except when you really hate every second of your job (good company, good co-workers, just a type of job that was the opposite of what I wanted to do), you become a miserable person.

I’ve now realized that the most likely way to make yourself happy and provide a sense of fulfillment is to love the work that you do. Work gives you pride and a sense of purpose. It is likely the most tangible contribution to society that we can make. It provides us with a large portion of our identity.

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. — Aristotle

Maybe you don’t know what you what to do “when you grow up.” Maybe you have an idea for a career path, but aren’t sure how to break into it. Perhaps you don’t even know where to begin or what questions to ask. This guide should hopefully be helpful to all of these types of people.

I decided to make this guide because I have a lot of friends that are around my age that are making the same mistakes that I painfully made for some time. They almost all have the same kinds of questions.

Over the past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the quickest and most effective way to land your dream job (or really accomplish anything of meaning to you) is to surround yourself with wonderful people.

This guide will therefore consist primarily of networking tips, with the remainder of the book helping you fill in the other relevant gaps to helping you land your dream job.

  1. Preface
  2. Finding some direction
  3. What is a network and why should I care about building one?
  4. “What value do I have and how will others know?”
  5. Reaching out + creating relationships with the right people
  6. Maintaining relationships
  7. Seeking mentors
  8. Useful tools + books
  9. Final thoughts
  10. Spreading the love

Be aware that this is a rough draft and an experiment. There may be typos. There may be unanswered questions. You may consider this to be nothing short of word-vomit. I know that this is essentially one large wall of text. Bear with me while I try to provide value to others — and the best way to do that.

Enjoy!

*If you find this free version helpful, I’ve made an online course — free for the first 100 registrants!

Once registered, you’ll have lifetime access. The course includes improved viewing and interactivity on all devices and the following bonus content:

  • Getting clarity on your goals and where to start
  • How to research jobs
  • Resume tips
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  • Email templates for common situations
  • More great content as requested

Sign up now to see if you’re one of the first 100 people to get free lifetime access.

*Otherwise, it will likely be $5–10.

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Part 1: Preface

I really started networking after I started pursuing my web design business full-time in August of 2013 (originally started in April of 2013 as a way to potentially leave my job). I had read the book Never Eat Alone, which had given me the perfect primer for how to be better than 90%+ of other professionals at networking. This whole “networking” thing seems like cake!

As someone who was completely new in business, I enthusiastically went to every networking event that I could — only to realize that most networking events are garbage. Most people at most “networking events” are going to be uninteresting or painful to talk to.

Hell of a preface for a book mostly talking about a networking, right?!

The truth is that “networking” sounds like a lame and dirty word. As if you go to a crappy event at a cheap-looking venue, you exchange business cards to never talk to the person again, etc. This is sadly how most people “network.”

Networking is really about building friendships with people and helping each other out — and having fun along the way. Sounds better, right?

While in business, the most rewarding experience has, by far, been the people that I’ve met. I owe that all to networking.

Networking is basically a mindset. Always be looking to meet others. You never know where you can find someone who can change your life and/or you can change theirs.

The good news is that after you get the hang of networking, it’ll become a natural reflex. Your brain will almost re-wire itself to always be looking for new opportunities.

Want to get started on maximizing your chances for success? Let’s get started.

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Part 2: Finding some direction

All throughout our lives up until graduating college, we’re told exactly what to do.

Sure, we pick classes and everything. But we know what grades we need to do x and the classes we need for y. Things are very specific. Everyone has it laid out neatly for us.

Now that you’re out of college, all of your decisions fall on you. Nobody can actually make you do anything (sans pay the bills). Nothing starts off insanely clear.

We all hear from people that declare that college is the best time of your life.

College was amazing, there is no doubt.

But life absolutely begins after you graduate college. After we start on our own, we’re no longer little mice spinning our wheels for the next piece of cheese. We are open to the unlimited possibilities in the world. It is terrifying, but the single-most liberating and exhilarating time of life. What a rush.

So let’s get to plotting your own direction. You can’t hit a target that you can’t see.

Goals

Before everything, you need to figure out your goals. Write them down and have easy access to them at all times. I have a Google Spreadsheet of my personal and career goals in 1, 3, 5, and 10 years from now.

It sounds stupid. I am aware.

Even though I had a decent idea of what my goals were, I recently received the advice to write them down, which has made (and will continue to make) my decision-making so much simpler.

We all have certain things that we want to accomplish in our personal lives and our careers. We want to make sure that these things align and that we’re advancing down the long-term path that we want.

Check out the concept of SMART goals for assistance on writing yours.

For example, let’s say that you want to live in Hawaii on the beach and have four hours per day to surf. This is very important to you.

But then you also say that you want to be a stock broker for a top-tier financial firm.

Clearly, there are numerous conflicts between these two sets of goals — leading you down two very different paths. What action do you take next?

There isn’t a right or wrong way to live; we all have our priorities. Writing down these goals just helps give us more clarity on where we want to be, which will help us figure out how to get there.

Remind yourself on why you’re doing what you’re doing. Steven Covey’s phrase of “Begin with the end in mind” is timeless advice.

I wrote this previous post on LinkedIn to talk about the importance of having specific goals and telling others about them.

But what do you really enjoy doing?

This is not an easy question whatsoever. And it’ll actually change a bunch throughout your life. It’s already changed multiple times for me in the past few years.

Some questions to potentially ask yourself:

  • When are you at your best (e.g. working alone with strict guidelines, working in a team with minimal direction, etc.)?
  • If money wasn’t really an issue, what productive things would you do (or attempt to do)?
  • What is something that you love so much that you’d almost do for free (“I can’t believe they’d pay me to do this!”)?
  • What does you perfect working environment look like (people, physical location, atmosphere, etc.)?
  • What are your biggest strengths?

The above questions likely can’t be answered instantly. Feel free to take some time and ask your friends/loved ones their opinions.

*For further reading on helping to figure out who you are and where you can contribute your unique skillset, I’d recommend Business Model You and The Startup of You.

Once you have specificity in your goals and understand a bit about who you are, you have a better idea of your target, and can now figure out how to execute.

What job is right for me?

By thinking about your goals, what you like/are good at, etc., you should have a much clearer direction of what you think you want.

You should definitely research online on your own. Look up what kind of jobs would fit certain goals, work styles, and interests that you’ve written down.

Then search these job titles on career sites like Indeed and SimplyHired to see get an idea of what is out there.

*Certain careers paths, like with tech startups, have their own sites for posting jobs.

Examine different companies through sites like Glassdoor.

All of this research should help give you some starting points to work from. Certainly talking to people while networking will help you zero-in.

Amazing resources under your nose

At every college (or so I figure), there is a department dedicated to career counseling. They are often very helpful and can provide a ton of direction. They can often help you with your resume, as well.

Furthermore, your college likely has an online job board and does on-campus interviewing. This is how I actually got my first job (I received two solid offers from on-campus interviewing). This tears down all barriers and gets you directly in front of recruiters for solid jobs.

And of course — don’t forget your professors! If you had a particular professor that you really liked or excelled in his/her class, don’t forget to reach out. Professors have strong networks and would love to help students that ask.

These resources are completely essential and should not be forgotten about. I would utilize these resources first before anything.

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Part 3: What is a network and why should I care about building one?

You are who you surround yourself with. Ever have friends that were honest and kind people, only to fall into the wrong crowd and turn into completely different individuals? People that you spend your time with will inevitably mold you. So you better be in good company.

Have you ever applied for a job online and didn’t hear back?

This was me when I was finishing up college. I wasted countless hours on emails and cover letters that absolutely went unread or ignored. It physically hurts to think about it because I know so many friends are making that very same mistake.

If you’re applying for jobs online without knowing anyone at the company…do yourself a favor and stop right now.

*Applying online for a job without knowing anyone may work okay for smaller companies in some situations, but is often a waste of time — at least without a specific and targeted approach.

Unless you’re a Harvard MBA that doubles as a masked vigilante and saves kittens from burning buildings (and can clearly put data about it on your resume), it’s hard for your resume to stick out among thousands of other candidates that you’re competing with. If it’s your dream job, there are likely many others that share that dream.

The cliche phrase of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is absurdly true. Accept it, embrace it, and develop a strategy to use it to your advantage. Your competition (fellow millennials/recent college graduates) are likely not playing this game.

Getting to where you want to be in life usually requires the assistance of others. Landing your dream job is a perfect example. And that’s where having a strong and supportive network comes in.

A network is not a bunch of people you only contact in times of need.

“Networking” is not just the act of going to a happy hour once per year and collecting business cards — only to throw them away later without ever following up.

Building a network is the process of creating relationships with other business professionals. More informally, it’s just surrounding yourself with people that you like and admire to provide value to each other in the long-term.

Networking never ends. Furthermore, you not only need to build these relationships, but need to maintain them. As you can imagine, this does get increasingly hard as your network grows.

Networking grows exponentially. Every time you connect with someone, you technically have access to their network. You must also protect your network, but make it available to those that it can benefit.

You can utilize your network in a variety of ways:

  • Seeking Mentorship
  • Finding better career opportunities
  • Warm introductions to others that you want to reach
  • Asking for feedback on new ideas
  • Information on unfamiliar topics

Key principles so that you don’t look like a disingenuous jackass when networking:

  1. Your primary goal is to make friends. People do business with those they like. As stated previously, I’m targeting younger people new in their careers with this book. You likely made many friends in college — you’re used to social circumstances. Now you need to meet people of all ages — in much more formal settings. Even if someone is in their 40s/50s, it can be extremely easy to relate to them. And let’s be honest — their stories are probably better than yours (if they’re willing to share).
  2. Networking is a two-way street. You need to give respect to earn it. Always be offering to help. It’s a mindset. You’ll continuously improve your listening ability and politely mention when you can help someone. Don’t just reach out to your network when you want something. If you continuously look to help others first, you build a ton of relationship capital. Down the road, when you need some help, your network will be ecstatic to help you. And people naturally like helping others anyways.
  3. Some of the ways I offer value to my network
  4. Offering to make mutually-beneficial introductions
  5. Providing advice on topics I know well (quick website critiques, app recommendations, etc.)
  6. Referring those I trust — anything from a potential employee to two people that could do business together
  7. Send people eBooks/content that I’ve enjoyed
  8. Have fun and be sincere. Don’t try too hard or take yourself too seriously. Slow down. Don’t bombard someone with questions when meeting them. Don’t rush to give someone your business card. Prefer one long and meaningful conversation to ten short and impersonal ones.
  9. If you want something, ask for it. It will look weird if you keep just trying to help others. Don’t necessarily ask for a huge favor right out of the gate, but it’s good task for something, and people naturally will want to help you.
  10. Follow-up is everything. Send that follow-up/email message within 24 hours of meeting someone. If it’s someone that you really want to chat with, take a note to shoot them another email four or five days later (ideally between Tuesday and Thursday). Not with something like “Hey, did you get my last email? I’m waiting on your response.” — but something like “Hey, just circling back. Would really love to chat. When are some good days for coffee next week so that I can learn more about what you do?” Obviously this is just an example, but if I want to chat with someone more, we should do it in-person, and coffee is likely the most practical way to do so.

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Part 4: “What value do I have and how do I relay it to others?”

When I chat with my peers / new job-seekers about networking, many of them ask a very reasonable (yet discouraging question):

But what can I offer them? Why would they want to talk to me?

You absolutely have something to offer others. It just may not be quite yet.

You may be able to deliver life-changing value down the road simply with a two-minute email introduction to someone they’d love to chat with. Can you believe that you can change someone’s life in two minutes with minimal effort on your part — just by the chance of knowing certain people?

It could even be as simple as telling someone about a book that you read or an app that you know of.

It’s important to be aware of your strengths and play to them. Sure, you can work to improve on any glaring weaknesses that are impeding you, but figure out how you can be any company’s secret weapon.

There is one crazy thing that you have to know about mankind.

We naturally want to help each other.

Even though you may be some fresh graduate and can’t think of an immediate way to provide value to someone, if you are confident, personable, and can clearly articulate what you want, you’d be surprised at the amount of people that are willing to help you out.

But how do you articulate your strengths and build a presence?

I’d recommend beefing up your LinkedIn profile first. Add specific details and metrics (just like on a resume). Let data tell your story and value when possible.

But with LinkedIn, there are also the nuances that make a big difference.

Get a professional head-shot. I guarantee that you have a friend that is a photographer that would gladly help you if you took him/her to lunch. Even spending $50 would be a great investment. Get a flattering picture taken of you in professional attire with a blurred background (so that you’re the focus). A professional head-shot can mean the difference between someone looking at your profile before someone else’s…and ultimately you getting that job you want. It’s seriously buying a significant amount of credibility for a very small investment.

Add a good LinkedIn tagline. Don’t say something like “seeking full-time employment.” That’s lazy and insanely broad, and therefore, Nobody will help you.

Your tagline should be one sentence that articulates some of your great qualities/strengths and what you do / what you’re looking to do. Use dynamic language.

For example, let’s say you want to be a personal trainer. Try “Passionate and energetic teacher looking to help others reach their fitness goals.”

Post status updates. I’d recommend posting a status on LinkedIn at least once per week (around 10am). It doesn’t have to be much. It can be a motivational quote or a quick opinion on an article you read (and a link).

When you’re continuously posting good content, you’re staying top-of-mind. People take notice of this. It builds a massive amount of credibility, which can have large payouts down the road. They see you’re working hard to contribute and become a thought leader in your space.

It feels weird at first, but put yourself out there. People will take notice. And your visibility will increase your credibility.

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Part 5: Reaching out + creating relationships with the right people

Alright, you know why networking is good now and have an idea on how to build a great online presence. Maybe people have noticed. Now it’s time to recruit people into your circle.

To get started, use LinkedIn’s connection recommendation tool to connect with those you already know. It’s extremely useful for reaching out to previous peers, co-workers, bosses, professors, etc. Don’t just add people you don’t know (at least this way). I’d recommend adding a quick personalized message (and even ask how the person is doing) when connecting. Don’t just use the standard auto-text that LinkedIn sends in a message for a connection request. It looks impersonal. Give it a few days for people to accept.

Here comes the tricky part — you need to get in front of the right people.

Let’s assume that you’re looking for an awesome new job.

Hopefully a bunch of people that you know accepted your connection request, which will widen your reach to their contacts too. That will help you out.

You want to be as specific as possible when targeting people. The more specific, the better. So be happy that you put investment into writing these things down (from earlier in the guide)! Some quick thoughts:

  • What is your dream job?
  • Dream company?
  • Dream industry?
  • How does all of this factor into your overall career and life goals?

Let’s say that you recently graduated college with a business degree. Consulting sounds interesting and you hear it’s a great way to jump-start your career. Maybe you’re not exactly sure what specific area, which is fine. A big company that is very established with lots of possibilities for learning and growth sounds great to you. You don’t have to have a perfectly-clear vision quite yet.

With the info above, you can then narrow your search to some of the leaders in the industry, such as the “Big Four” (Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, and EY).

Enter the names of these companies in the LinkedIn search bar at the top (one at a time).

You will see what contacts you have that work/have worked there, as well as 2nd degree connections (connections or your connections) have ties to those companies.

I’d recommend doing these three things:

  • Reaching out to those in your current network via private message
  • Requesting to connect with 2nd connections (and when you request adding these people, send a personal message as to that you noticed the role/company that the person is involved in)
  • Posting a status on LinkedIn about what you’re looking for and asking for intros

*Side note — if you want to reach small companies or startups, you could email them directly — you are more likely to get a response. Make sure you read their website closely and explain why they stuck out and why you want to chat with them. Your values will likely have to align with theirs.

Networking events — finding + follow-up

You need to use both online and offline channels. In fact, when meeting people online, the goal is to meet them in-person so that you can actually start building rapport (ideally via 1-on-1 meeting).

It takes time to get plugged into your local “networking event circuit.” Just Google networking events [city] / networking groups [city] and you’ll find things.

You’re going to inevitably stumble across some bad networking events. You can fortunately meet great people anywhere. You can also ask others at these events which things they like to attend, as well.

Don’t forget the obvious places, such as local Chambers of Commerce, religious organizations, and clubs that you’re a part of or that are of interest to you.

The key is to create a persona of who you want to surround yourself with. Think of the kinds of people you admire / want to be like). Write down their age range, character traits, job title/industry, what they like to do, and any other relevant info. With this persona, you can start to think about where these types of people congregate.

For example, if you want to get into politics, attend political events.

If you find tech interesting, attend your local tech events/conferences.

Don’t necessarily just look for generic networking events; think about where your ideal connections would flock to based on the persona that you’ve created for him/her.

Some quick tips on how you can tell if someone is a worthwhile connection (besides for their employer/job title):

  • They actively listen to you (including adding feedback and asking questions)
  • They are making consistent eye contact with you (rather than shifting their gaze all around)
  • They exercise humility / don’t brag about themselves (at least frequently)
  • They seem to be genuine and sincere

Don’t assume that someone is lying when you meet him/her — assume the best. But do your due diligence afterwards on LinkedIn and/or in brief follow-up emails just to confirm.

Also joining relevant LinkedIn groups (for an industry, your demographic [like city young professionals], etc.) can give you good options.

At these networking events, it is important to exchange business cards with those you like / want to chat more with (don’t just hand yours out). To get these easily, when wrapping up the conversation (when it naturally starts to wind down or you wish to move along), you can reach into your pocket and say “Here’s my card. May I have yours please? I’d love to continue this conversation.” If you don’t have a business card yet, just ask them for theirs and say you’ll follow up. Often times, it doesn’t make sense to have a business card if you are just looking for a job.

In order to regularly attend networking events, it’s best to schedule a recurring time on your calendar once per week to check on the upcoming ones. Save your favorite websites to check within the calendar invites (including sites like Meetup and relevant communities, such as General Assembly) to make the process rather automatic. Don’t forget your local Chambers of Commerce (there are usually many within driving distance of any major city).

How to actually start talking to people at a networking event.

It is very easy for anyone, especially someone new in his/her career, to wonder why someone would want to chat with them. Especially if that person has seniority, more respect amongst peers, etc.

Just reminder yourself that you have value, and that it is in fact your obligation to put yourself out there to make that valuable available to others. If they don’t find it or take it, then that’s on them.

The essential steps:

  1. Walk into the room smiling and standing tall. You belong here.
  2. Pick an individual or a small group of people that are smiling and standing tall, but don’t look/feel “closed off” from outsiders. These people have good energy. They’d probably love to chat with you. They likely come to networking events often and can help you get into the swing of things.
  3. If you go up to an individual person, smile, looking them in the eye, and give him/her a firm handshake, and say “Hey, I’m [name].” You’ll then get the person’s name. Simply ask “What do you do?” or “What brings you here?” and let the conversation take off naturally.
  4. If you go up to a group of people, politely wait for a small lull/pause in the conversation (which will happen). Then smile and start introducing yourself to those around you via a firm handshake and eye contact. Ask what everyone does. Ask a few questions as they come up. Eventually they’ll ask about you. You can say specifically what you’re interested in / what you’re looking for. Likely at least one person in a small group will have something to say that can benefit you.
  5. Holy crap, you’re networking. Pinch yourself. You’re really neat.

*For more awesome information on displaying confidence via body language, check out this wonderful TED Talk (26 million views can’t lie). Confidence is really the key at any of these things. It doesn’t matter how you internalize it mentally — just have it.

One prime note of networking: get others to talk about themselves. Everyone loves to do that and it’s the quickest way to really build rapport.

If you are chatting with someone and want to end the discussion, simply wait for the next pause and say “It was great chatting and nice to meet you. I’ll let you do your thing,” shake the person’s hand, and walk away. You’re never confined to chatting with an individual person. At a networking event, it is implied that people will bounce around.

The goal of networking is to follow up with people afterwards. If it’s someone that seems to be worth connecting with (that you ideally like and could become friends with), you should go for an in-person 1-on-1 meeting. Coffee is usually the easiest.

The art of the follow-up

This is, without a doubt, where almost everyone screws up. They don’t follow up. Or they take forever. Strike while the iron is hot! You’ll earn a ton of respect simply by following up.

I usually like to follow up with someone later that evening (ideally after the event) or within 24 hours at most.

Look below for a relatively standard email that I send to people after meeting them at a networking event (assume that it is someone that seems like a high-quality person worth keeping in touch with). Remember that it’s someone that I want to chat with more, and therefore, I want to get coffee with him/her.

Let’s I’m a 22-year old recent graduate with a business degree that is looking for an entry-level job at a large consulting company.

*I plan to add more email templates to the full course.

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Follow-up networking event email — template

[Name],

Great meeting you [when and where]. I really enjoyed our conversation about [x]. How do you like your industry and the current company you’re with?

To politely reiterate, I’m a recent college graduate looking to get into [specific industry] as a [specific job title]. I’m looking at companies [include details — geographic area, number of employees, specific names, etc.]. Do you happen to know of anyone that I should chat with for further information? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Let me know if there are any ways I can be a good connection for you. Thanks and we’ll be in touch!

Sincerely,

[name]

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Follow-up networking event email — example (and I want to meet with this person because he’s in my field at a company I’m interested in). Obviously this is you built some rapport with the person and you both got along well. If he/she doesn’t like you, you probably won’t land a meeting (but would you even want to?).

John,

Great meeting you at the Fairfax Chamber event last night. I really enjoyed our conversation and I appreciate all of the great insight that you gave me about consulting.

You seem to really like working at Deloitte, and it sounds like an awesome company that I’d be interested in looking into further.

I’d love to get together for coffee or lunch (my treat) to learn a bit more about what you do and how to get my feet wet in a large consulting firm. Any additional insight would be greatly appreciated.

How does the morning of Monday the 24th or afternoon of Wednesday the 26th look for you?

Thanks and looking forward to hopefully talking again soon!

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If someone doesn’t answer your original follow-up email, don’t sweat it at all. People can get lost with emails. Any number of things could have happened; it doesn’t mean that person doesn’t wish to talk with you.

Use a service like Boomerang or Followup.cc to bounce an email back to you at a later date if someone doesn’t respond to your first email. I’d recommend bouncing it back about 3–4 days from your original email on a Tues, Wed, or Thurs.

When the other person agrees to a meeting, always send calendar invites (or they may send their own to you). These should be very easy to do using any standard email system’s calendar. Gmail/Google Calendar is particularly easy for this. Calendar invites are great because it allows the person to RSVP while providing you both with the same meeting information — right in your calendar (without needing to do additional data entry). If you make any changes, the personal will be automatically notified with the calendars updated.

*Obviously make sure that your phone’s calendar is synced to your email account.

Make sure you have a non-embarrassing email when communicating professionally. This can be your college email address, a Gmail address, or an Outlook address. Your email should be your name — likely with a few numbers attached (since email addresses with just our names are usually hard to get). Maybe even a lastname.firstname@gmail.com, if you can get it.

Don’t be the person to send a professional email from an email account like “Surferdude88.” You’ll look like a moron.

1-on-1 Meetings

Here it is: you’ve worked hard and you’re finally sitting in front of someone that you’ve been wanting to talk to. So what do you even say?

Well, it depends on the conversation. As shown in email template for this occasion, you’ve hopefully outlined the general purpose of the meeting.

Once again, let’s hop back into the previous situation we outlined of you being a fresh undergrad business school graduate who wants to get into a large consulting firm. The person you’re chatting with is a mid-level or senior employee at a company you’d like to join.

Good Questions:

  • What’s your educational background look like?
  • How’d you decide to get into this field and how did your career progress down this path?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • What clubs or organizations are you a part of?
  • What are your main tips for someone who wants to get into this industry?
  • What types of character traits or skills are essential for success in this line of work?
  • How can I be a good connection for you?

These are the core questions. I’d recommend playing it by ear. Have a little fun if there’s a good and comfortable chemistry between you and the person you’re chatting with.

Above all — have fun. Don’t turn this into a rapid-fire interrogation. Give someone a quick pause after they answer your question so that they can ask something back.

For these meetings, I’d recommend bringing a notebook + pen for notes and dressing in business casual attire (unless specified otherwise). You will want to look at the person’s LinkedIn profile prior to the meeting, as well.

Do not take notes on your phone. In fact, never take your phone out during a meeting. It looks awful.

Plan for one hour during these types of engagements, but if the person is very busy, sometimes 30–45 minutes is preferable for them. You’ll eventually get a good sense of time for how long this is without needing any devices, but wearing a watch and very stealthily glancing at it can be helpful.

One great trick at the end of the meeting is to say “Do you mind if I send you my resume for some very quick feedback? I’d greatly appreciate it.”

At the very least, you’ll likely get some good tips.

It is possible that this person passes the resume onto an internal recruiter, yielding a call from him/her (if you’re impressive and sincere enough).

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Part 6: Maintaining relationships

Yes, you’ve got some relationships with very cool people. Go you! You’re on a roll.

But now, those relationships need to be maintained. Don’t worry, it’s not atrociously hard. And if your network is comprised of people that you mostly like and enjoy being around, then this will still be fun and rewarding. You’ll want to keep these relationships strong.

To maintain your relationships, stay active on LinkedIn and follow the progress of your connections. Say congratulations on new jobs, comment on their status updates / blogs, etc. Let them know that you’re taking the time to hear about them. It will often be reciprocated.

Make a list of your favorite professional connections. Maybe they’re the most successful people, the coolest/most interesting, or you just like them the most. Whatever.

Every month or two, you’ll want to check in on these contacts. Simply ask them what they’ve been working on / been up to and any ways you can support them, then tell them the one or two most important things you’re working on or professional/life updates that you have. I personally have this as a recurring calendar event to remind me to do it.

Your connections will enjoy hearing from you periodically and things should continue to organically materialize.

As relationships continue to develop, keep doing additional in-person meetings with these connections. They’ll likely want to keep it casual and fun. Don’t be afraid to let them into your personal life or even share a few funny/lightly-embarrassing stories with them.

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Part 7: Mentorship

Mentors are absolutely key in your professional development.

A mentor doesn’t have to be a specifically-defined relationship. It can just be someone you reach out to from time to time to ask for important advice — via email, phone, or in-person (if it’s in-person, go to where it’s convenient for them and offer to pay).

I personally have a network of about 20 business-people that I certainly look up to and would consider mentors. I don’t talk to them too often. They’re insanely busy. But I check in once in a while, and very periodically, I’ll ask them for advice on one specific tough question that I have.

A great mentor is someone who you feel is successful (however you define it), has values that you admire, is trustworthy, and someone that you really enjoy talking to. A mentor does not necessarily need to be in your industry. I’d recommend having mentors both inside and outside of it to broaden your perspective.

You can find mentors through the same channels as we’ve talked about earlier throughout your normal course of networking.

Believe it or not, even if you have nothing of immediate value to to offer to your mentor, he or she will likely receive satisfaction from helping you. Just don’t pester them — they’re likely busy and likely helping you for free (or close to it — depending on how many times you take them out).

“If you have done well in whatever business you are in, it is your duty to send the elevator back down and try to help bring up the next generation of undiscovered talent.” -Kevin Spacey

Down the road, your mentor will at least know that you’ll help others that ask you (that you deem worth your time). A few of my mentors joke with me and say that they’re helping me for free because when I hit it big, I’ll take care of them. And that is absolutely true.

Believe it or not, you’ll earn a lot of respect by having the confidence to display your vulnerability and asking for help — and your mentors will be honored to help you overcome your challenge.

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Part 8: Tools + Books

Tools

  • Charlie — Automated research on contacts to make a great first impression
  • Boomerang / Followup.cc — return emails at a later date (e.g. if unanswered)
  • Wisestamp — beautiful and professional email signatures
  • FullContact — amazing contact manager for web + mobile
  • Rapportive — social profiles inside of Gmail

Suggested Reads

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Part 9: Final Thoughts

The main impetus for me writing this guide out of my own anger and frustration. I am disappointed in a lot of my friends and peers.

I see people all around me that are intelligent and capable of great things. They are recent college graduates with potential bright futures. And they are wasting valuable time doing unproductive things or being significantly underemployed.

The worst part is that a lot of them are complaining and basking in their own misery about how it’s so hard to find a job, to grow up, etc.

After listening to this dialogue, I don’t blame older generations for declaring that millennials are spoiled and entitled.

One essential lesson that I’ve learned: the world doesn’t owe you shit.

If you really care about something, you will find a way to make it so.

To make your goals happen, you have to actually love and care about yourself.

The world is not a fair and equitable place. It never will be.

Sometimes you have to play by certain rules. Sometimes you have to look at the rules in different ways. Perhaps you need to forget social norms. You have to risk looking like an idiot. Regardless of what you do, you have to act boldly and with conviction.

Don’t tell yourself that you can’t do something. Don’t tell yourself that because you have a certain GPA or a certain degree that you are limited to those constraints.

You need to think bigger. You need to remove negative self-talk from your internal monologue. You need to surround yourself with positive people. You need to remind yourself daily that you are worth it and can do it — but it will take effort.

This guide is for people that respect themselves and want to improve. It requires a lot of internal dedication in order to be implemented. It will be uncomfortable. It will be scary. You don’t know what will happen next.

The only thing that is holding you back from your dream is your mindset and self-limiting beliefs.

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Part 10: Spreading the love

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this small how-to guide and that you’re ready to make stuff happen.

I know this seems like a lot, but the only way to do it well is to practice. Don’t be afraid to mess up. The mere fact that you’re putting yourself out there will command you respect from others. You’re already ahead of the curve.

To really commit to this process, I would recommend reaching out to career-driven friends of yours and holding each other accountable to success. Send them this resource and you guys can work together to create action plans. Perhaps you check in with each other once per week to see what connections you’ve made, networking events you’ve attended, etc.

Holding yourself and others accountable can mean the difference between no progress and landing that dream job.

Now go build your amazing network by making great friends and providing value to help everyone around you succeed. The process isn’t instant, but if you do this right and change your mindset, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.

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I would like to thank those who have helped me with my professional development thus far. I’m so grateful for all of my professional connections, mentors, and friends that I’ve met on this wild and uncertain path of starting a new career. I hope that I’ve provided you with at least as much value as you given to me. Thank you for continuing to inspire and motivate me on a daily basis. I will never forget what you’ve done for me.

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Thanks so much for reading.

Once again, if you want to see the full version of this with lots of bonus content (including email templates), please sign up here — the first 100 to click this link will receive lifetime access to this course for free.

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