The power of warm intros
Make networking easier on yourself by utilizing the help of those you already know.
I have stumbled upon some helpful networking tips over the years, but the best opportunities in my experience have come from warm introductions. While I'm sure there is hard science behind leveraging the warm intro in networking, I will share how my background and experiences have shaped my ability to network. Further, I will provide more tactical examples of how I went about building relationships in the ETA community before raising search capital for White Cedar. This post is not meant to make networking sound transactional; it's quite the opposite. My goal here is to provide you with a few approaches to increase the probability of success when you are looking to expand your ETA network as a prospective searcher.
As a first-generation college student, I had a difficult time getting to know the right people who could help provide guidance before entering the workforce. No one in my family worked in business, and most were against the core of capitalism. However, I had always been fascinated with the businessmen for some reason. Maybe it was the power seats you’d see in the movies, the confidence, or their financial freedom (or at least what I perceived at the time). Whatever it was, I knew I would enter the corporate workforce after my basketball career.
Playing basketball at Cornell enabled me to meet some alumni of the program that were instrumental in providing timely guidance as I transitioned away from the game. Their coaching on resume building, email communication, general presence, and countless other soft skills were invaluable to my younger self, whose backup plan was to pursue a professional basketball career in Europe. I didn't know much, but I was determined to figure it out.
Besides their selflessness and generosity, something small that stood out to me from these mentors was their connections and how they could open doors for me. At the time, one living in New York introduced me to his roommate, who was also a former Cornell student-athlete with the same major as me. One thing led to another, and because of their support, I landed a summer internship in the Ralph Lauren corporate office. Now, I wouldn't have to keep putting my ankles through so much pain on the basketball court.
I share this experience to highlight some important lessons I learned during that transition:
Personal upbringing shouldn't be an inhibiting factor in going after one's goals in life.
People are more likely to help you than you think, especially when you can bond over mutual interests and connections.
No one will help you if you don't ask, so always be willing to ask for help from those you admire.
Those with personal and professional success are givers, not takers.
If it weren't for my good fortune of being on that team, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to build those connections and the trust that is so important in building professional relationships. And without those moments early on in my adulthood, who knows where I'd be?
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