Does Networking Really Work? A Career Guide For Teenagers
Networking and mentorship are pivotal in carving out successful career paths, as evidenced by the personal accounts of CEOs and founders among others. From the power of mentorship as a shortcut to success to how it fills in knowledge gaps, we've gathered thirteen diverse and inspiring stories that highlight the impact of these connections on career development.
- Provides a Shortcut to Success
- Fosters Career Moves
- Builds Deeper Relationships
- Empowers Business Growth
- Develops Leadership Skills
- Shapes Career Expertise
- Unveils Business Opportunities
- Allows for Shared Challenges
- Imparts Wider Insight
- Lands Higher Position
- Exchanges Ideas and Information
- Enhances Work Satisfaction
- Fills in the Gaps
Provides a Shortcut to Success
Mentorship has been critical to my career and life. Mentorship is like a shortcut to success. Rather than copying your mentor’s path, you can learn from the wins and lessons of someone who is a step, or multiple steps, ahead of you.
You might find it helpful to invest in multiple mentors, as each can provide a unique perspective based on their background and experiences.
Fosters Career Moves
Networking with former classmates from my graduate program got me out of a toxic work environment. I stayed in contact with a handful of people from my program, and we always supported each other's career development and paths. My friend was approached for a position and didn't want to take it, so she referred me to the hiring manager. She had worked there previously and helped me prepare my application, gave me insights into the team and culture, and helped me practice for the interview.
While I was up against other professionals, the endorsement from her helped me establish trust quickly, and I believe it was a factor in getting hired. Always stay connected to quality people who can vouch for you and support you through your career.
Builds Deeper Relationships
Networking has played a tremendous role in the growth of my business and for my clients as well. Surround yourself with people doing the things you want to do now and later. Immerse yourself in how they grow and develop. Learn from them and, more importantly, observe areas of opportunity for yourself because of it. Ascertain what needs there are and how you can stand out.
Develop deeper connections and mentors by achieving your own baseline and respecting their time for the nitty-gritty that allows them to give back and you to grow further. It's not a shortcut; it's a muscle that needs to be worked over and over throughout your career. And remember to pay it forward!
Empowers Business Growth
While a natural networker and connector, establishing a start-up career management consultancy six years ago was exciting but also overwhelming. However, I quickly learned that I could not “build my business alone” and that leveraging my network, coupled with the guidance of a mentor, would be hugely empowering!
Both have and still provide an ecosystem that enhances my capabilities and continuous learning, creates business opportunities for growth, offers a platform to exchange ideas, gain insights, and share best practices.
Develops Leadership Skills
While I had a lot of help from a few mentors to get where I am today, the thing I actually want to talk about is how mentoring others helped me to really grow into myself as a leader and manager. I got my start in marketing, and I quickly became an expert at social-media marketing in particular.
For several years, I performed my role well but was having trouble growing beyond it. It wasn't until the company I was with hired about half a dozen brand-new marketing hires that I got a taste of how much you can learn by trying to teach others. Serving as the go-to resource, advocate, and mentor for these young employees absolutely made me into the leader I am today, and all six of those “kids” (they're maybe five years younger than me) are on successful career trajectories today. One of them even works for me.
Shapes Career Expertise
My first step in a career in federal law was an internship with a U.S. Attorney's Office, where I was under the supervision of an accomplished federal prosecutor. The way I now comprehend federal statutes and prosecution tactics is largely attributable to his instruction.
He taught me the intricacies of federal law, from the preparation of indictments to the presentation of cases in federal court. Not only did my mentor help me hone my legal abilities, but he also made me appreciate the complexities of federal law much more.
Unveils Business Opportunities
I've been a serial entrepreneur for a good long while at this point, and if there's one thing I've learned in that time, it's that you really never know what kind of opportunity is going to come across your plate if you keep your ears open and cultivate a broad network of like-minded individuals.
In my experience, people are far more likely to look to the people they know for a business opportunity, as a known quantity, even if they might not necessarily be the most qualified, is always much more preferable over the unknown.
My recommendation is to do what I did: go to your local entrepreneur meetups, offer pro-bono content to educate your community and your industry, and be active in as many social media channels in your industry as possible.
Allows for Shared Challenges
My faith is very important to me. Running a personal injury law firm based on faith-based values can be difficult. There are very few lawyers who publicly discuss their faith. I have found that LinkedIn is the best way to connect with like-minded business owners.
Through LinkedIn, I have developed a network of like-minded attorneys. Several of them have incredible practices, and I've been able to learn from them, bounce ideas off of them, and discuss challenges that we each face.
Imparts Wider Insight
Huge. I had worked in advertising for 10 years, and when I started my ad agency, it was those relationships that had, and still do, fuel the growth of our agency. People I had worked with 18 years ago are recommending us to clients. A former CEO is now our client. Relationships matter. So do good work.
Get known for being reliable, helpful, valuable, and strategic. Those relationships will power your career, get you in the door at new employment opportunities, and give you insight into companies that you may not otherwise get. Relationships are dramatically important.
Lands Higher Positions
Well, networking got me my current job as CEO of Contentoo, so I'd consider that a fairly major role played in my career development. That's not to say that it happened by circumstance. The founder of the business and I had been “business flirting” for a few years, with him attempting to lure me away from my standing role as a director in a major international telecom business, as we knew each other well and he felt I'd be a good fit to run the enterprise.
When some of the luster had worn off my role, I knew exactly who to reach out to look for something different and more adventurous. Cultivating the long-term relationship paid off, even though there were no direct benefits for maintaining the relationship for years prior.
Exchanges Ideas and Information
Networking is essential for learning and advancing in your professional career. It has helped me connect with relevant resources that share similar interests and values.
When you connect with like-minded industry professionals, you can exchange ideas and information, and uncover new opportunities in your field. In my career, I have learned that building a strong network is an investment. You will reap benefits later in your life.
Enhances Work Satisfaction
At my air conditioning company, we have a strong emphasis on mentoring. We operate with the mindset that the greater personal growth someone has, the better they become at work as well. Happy and healthy at home? That plays a big role at work, especially if you're financially healthy at home.
Providing the right resources and guidance for employees to help ensure they have personal financial success leaves them more satisfied with their job. This, in turn, produces better results, and everyone wins.
Fills in the Gaps
I started out as a programmer for a mid-sized company before having the bright idea to stick a tablet to the wall to indicate whether a conference room was busy, and using that as a launchpad to start my own business.
As you might imagine, I was supremely out of my depth for the first few years, and a lot of my success is due to the fact that I had a good community around me that could give me advice, conduct some sanity testing, and just plain offer emotional support from people who were in similar circumstances.
No business is truly built by one person, so having a solid network around you that you can bounce ideas off of and help you fill in the gaps to make your business actually function is a must.