If you’re in the middle (or later) part of your career, what would you tell your younger self? And if you’re a student or recent grad, what do you wish you knew now that you’ll grind out and learn over the next ten or twenty years? Smpl. founder Elliot Strunk shares some insights for the community being built around our tools.
Thought Fart No. 4:
Network your ass off.
I don’t know about you, but over the course of my life there have been many pieces of advice I didn’t agree on when the source has been my parents. I feel this is part of the arc of growing up and the natural rebellion that’s part of discovering who you are as you enter into adulthood.
It’s funny how the older I got, the smarter my parents became.
One of those pieces of advice my mother (Hi, Mom!) would continually revisit was the idea of networking. As I began college, postage stamps and shoe leather were the two best ways to meet people. The internet (and therefore LinkedIn) didn’t exist. There wasn’t the proliferation of industry conferences we have today. And the average business person wore a tie to work. Every. Single. Day.
I didn’t want to do it. I was often shy. While I knew I was good at art, I didn’t know what I could offer that professionals would find value in. It was, to be easy on myself, a rumpled, clumsy endeavor.
As Woody Allen famously observed, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” He’s right.
When you’re curious and passionate about something, that energy is infectious. When you have physical proximity to one or more people sharing those passions, you not only share that in real time, you also see and feel the unspoken nuances when you communicate. It’s a deeper experience and far more engaging.
The next time you see work you like or read an article from someone who you find interesting, an email or comment is good. A phone call is great. But coffee, lunch or a beer? Amazing.
And if you have an opportunity to meet one of your heroes at a conference, do it. After all, that’s why you’re both there.
(Photo courtesy of Brooks Cagle via Unsplash.)