How recent grads can build useful networking and mentor relationships

Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Best-Seller
35 Years in
Career Management

New generations entering the professional world always get accused of lacking humility, a good work ethic, pride in their profession, and an eagerness to learn. It is being said of your generation today, which is great, because you can use this bad press of your generation to enormous personal advantage.

Biographer Robert Caro notes how President Lyndon Johnson used this same criticism of  his generation to fuel his meteoric rise to the presidency of the United States: “Old men want to feel that the experience which has come with their years is valuable, that they possess a sagacity that could be obtained only through experience—a sagacity that could be of use to young men if only young men would ask.” Lyndon Johnson asked…and it was appreciated, with gratitude, he would tell how he had followed the advice, and how well it had worked. “‘Thank you for your counsel,’ he would say. ‘I neededthat counsel.’ ‘Thank you for giving me just a little of your wisdom,’ he would say… ‘I just don’t know what I would have done without it.’ ” The most influential man of his generation, he was smart enough to enlist the help of the generations ahead of him. You can use this.
Social media increases your access to influence
Experienced professionals welcome the opportunity to share their accumulated wisdom, you just have to reach out to them and social media sites like LinkedIn make this easy.
You can make useful contacts at all levels by joining the special interest LinkedIn groups relevant to your profession and becoming a visible part of those groups by contributing to the conversations and adding the contacts you make this way to your network. Here’s how you do it:
Read group discussion posts and add comments. As a first time job seeker, you probably can’t add substance, but you can make comments like this: “I just received my accounting degree from ____, and I’m entering the professional world, and this was a really helpful.” You flatter the person making the post, get noticed by everyone following the discussion (including corporate recruiters); you have announced your credentials, your school and stated the kind of work you are seeking, and all without looking needy. You especially want to make comments on the posts made by those who hold job titles directly above your target job title. It’s a no-brainer to ask for a connection with everyone who gets involved with the discussion.
Post discussions of your own.  You don’t have much of interest to say to experienced professionals yet, but you can get mileage by posting blogs and articles from influential sources, which others will comment on. Read professional blogs and media, and when you see something that has real relevance to your profession, post a brief introductory comment, “Interesting blog on…” or, “ What do you think of this…” and add a link to the article. Subsequently you can make link requests to anyone who comments.
Post questions of your own. Not questions about finding a job or employers, but issues about the challenges of the job. All jobs, at their core, are about anticipating, preventing, and solving the problems that regularly arise within their area of responsibility. So, questions about improving skills, or finding solutions to common problems, are of interest to everyone. For example: “Hello, I’m a recent accounting graduate from _____. I recognize that accounts receivable has an important role in company operations, and of course when everyone pays their bills on time life is sweet, but my question is what we can do to anticipate and prevent [notice the word choice] late payments. I’m new at this, so any comments would be much appreciated.”
The answers posted by more experienced professionals will deliver great insights into what it takes to be good at your job and gives you the opportunity to connect with people who just might know of such job openings. Questions like these tell every recruiter or hiring manager who sees the post that you are someone who sees to the heart of the job, and if they are looking for entry-level personnel, you are exactly the kind of professional employers want.
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Martin Yate
Copyright 2012
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