Just two years out of college, I want nothing more than to empower fellow Gen-Y entrepreneurs who either took the college route or skipped that sh*t entirely. I hope you all can learn from my successes and failures (plenty more of the latter)!
*Note: I’m an entrepreneur, not a novelist (yet). This article wasn’t edited to make the New York Times. This article was created to actually relate with its readers with no bullshit, all thoughtful and real advice.
Create & Be Real,
Lets get started!
In the game of business, there is arguably no better head start you can give yourself than establishing a valuable network while in your 20s. Here are 5 real tips I, along with many of my most successful friends have used and come to learn the hard way to build our networks through events and everyday life:
- 1. There’s no such thing as winging it! Have an idea! If you’re going to an event that presents an opportunity to build your network, do some research about the event topic(s) as well as about who will be attending. If you’re attending a tech summit or meet-up and know nothing about tech nor have any involvement in the industry, don’t disappoint yourself by having unrealistic expectations of doing anything more than learning the basics of the industry (which is totally fine—you’ve gotta start somewhere). Proper preparation leads to credible confidence.
- 2. Be ready to listen and STFU. Especially for young entrepreneurs, the number one way for you to lose hope of gaining a quality connection within your field is by not shutting the f*ck up when engaging with a senior entrepreneur (been there, done that). I understand you want nothing more than to prove your recently acquired knowledge and innovative ideas, but the best way of going about this is being an outstanding, active listener. Genuinely absorb the thoughts of the person you are speaking with and respond only when they have finished and you have something of substance to say…which dovetails in to step 3.
- 3. “Fortune favours the bold.” I know we’ve all heard this Latin proverb. In fact, I am a devout advocate and believer of its meaning. So let’s understand how you can be a beneficiary of this secret…Being bold is typically a low-risk, high-growth potential investment. Put yourself in a position to succeed at the highest level (in this case, collect the highest return possible from being bold) by speaking with substance. No one wants to waste their limited active-listening tank on empty ideas or opinions, especially from someone younger than them! Deliver your ideas and contributions in a thoughtful, organic and supported manner. Site a source and establish credibility by using a line as simple as, “I’ve conducted research on this matter and was surprised/pleased/displeased/astonished by finding out…”
- 4. Always assume you’re going to get called out. Hopefully, the last business book you read touched on the importance of contingency planning for the longevity of a company. Well, it’s just as important for the longevity of your personal credibility! Always assume some asswipe is going to question you on your sources in an attempt to strip you down to the inexperienced, uneducated and in-over-your-head wannabe they ideally want you to be. Let these f*ckers dig their own graves by always having credible support for your opinions and claims.
- 5. Enjoy the opportunity and rise to the occasion! Networking events, such as seminars, lectures, meet-ups, conferences, etc., provide a great potential return on your investment of time and money. It’s ultimately up to you to extract the most value possible (as is the life of an entrepreneur). Have fun, smile and be well versed and read on a topic/subject/industry if you plan on expressing your thoughts. Sometimes, speaking on a topic is not the best way to go about things, so listen! Take in the advice from surrounding experts, go home and make it your own! From that point, you can enable yourself to speak on the matter at any time and to any person moving forward!
Enjoy the ride, fellow Gen-Y’trepreneurs. Let’s do dope sh*t together and continue to improve this planet and universe!
Feel free to drop me a line in the comments and/or send me a personal message. I would love to hear any ideas or questions you have about this topic or similar ones!
Create & Be Real,