In counseling with entrepreneurs, business owners and students, I frequently hear speculation about “going back for my master’s.”
Here’s what I can tell you from experience: Going back to college is something that we feel safe doing. We’ve been there and we know how the game is played. And because of the way our society talks about education, it can feel like more school is better.
We all want to get ahead and be winners. Here’s a life hack that will launch you into better opportunities, no matter if you decide to go back to school or not. It may shock you.
We’ve all seen that there is some solid foundation for the saying, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Going back to school can be useful and can be the difference between having a job and not having a job. But, depending on your individual path, a degree will not necessarily help you get further ahead in your career.
There are other ways to make friends and connections in your industry or field. And here is my favorite:
Attend local events.
I’ve had great results come from attending local events. In my city, there are dozens of networking opportunities every week. There are entrepreneur events, business owner events, women in business events, software events and the list goes on.
Look for available workshops, classes, meet-and-greets, brainstorming sessions, benefits, conferences, presentations, luncheons and concerts in your area. There are so many ways to build your career that come from connecting with people at these events. And, not to mention, ways that you can help other people as well.
Attending these types of activities can be great for building synergistic relationships. Here are two important things to keep in mind:
1. Be personable.
Everyone you meet is a person with hopes, feelings, ideas, goals and concerns. Treat them like people you know and care about. You are not connecting with career-advancing objects; you are connecting with souls. Put yourself out there. Be vulnerable enough to share some of your vital energy with others; be a builder. Follow up a couple of days after you meet people and let them know you enjoyed meeting them and that you hope you can collaborate on projects in the future.
2. Be succinct.
Know yourself and what you are all about. Know what it is that you are offering. Are you a top-notch personal assistant? Are you a software visionary? Are you a designer? Be able to talk about yourself in a way that lets people easily comprehend how they can connect with you. By the same token, have an idea of how others’ roles connect with yours so you can create opportunities for each other. With practice, you’ll get better at messaging yourself based on the position the other person holds.
3. Think beyond the box.
Be willing to attend events that are outside of your industry. Some of my best connections and opportunities have arisen from being the one person at the show who wasn’t like everyone else. If you are an accountant, for crying out loud, don’t just attend accountant events. Go to some small business events or some charity functions. A great way to stand out is just to be different than everyone around you — in a good way.
If you’ve hit a wall in your career, get outside of your company and into the networking scene around you; it may land you some great results. Right now is a great time to start building your personal network through local events. Good luck! I’d love to know how it goes for you.