Many students have recently graduated so we thought now would be a perfect time to talk about building relationships and finding jobs.
I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on this topic, but the relationships I have built over the past 5 years have led to some fantastic job opportunities and have allowed me to build a relatively stable career as a recent graduate myself. I used to attribute a lot of my success to luck, but there are a few key, actionable things I did that have helped me along the way. More importantly, I think they can help other recent graduates as well.
The best work connections I’ve made have come from having a genuine interest in that person. Interacting with them and their work, learning about their interests and professional strengths, asking them for advice or to get a coffee, etc. Most of the time if you interact with someone, you’ll be top of mind the next time they are looking for someone with your skillset. Remember, good relationships take time. Don’t just think about yourself and what they can do for you. How can you be useful to that person?
The more people that see you doing something, the more it’ll stick in their brain that you do that thing. I wanted to get better at drawing people, so I just kept doing that. Eventually people caught on and started ordering portraits, but what captured them was being consistent in my promotion. It may take 10 posts of someone seeing your work for them to be convinced to buy something for themselves. Consistency is key when it comes to promotion so figure out a cadence for your posting and stick to it. Shannon wrote a great newsletter on Creating a Sales Cycle, which can help identify the customer journey and how people end up buying your product.
Sometimes that dream job or connection isn’t what you thought it would be or the situation just isn’t right. The timing of your outreach or other circumstances might be off. Don’t be discouraged and keep trying if you feel like there’s genuine opportunity there, but remember to keep an open mind and look for other opportunities while you're at it.
Imagine having to hire someone to work for you. Terrifying right? The pressure that comes with picking someone that you will potentially spend 30+ hours a week with is huge. That’s why taking the time to get to know someone, and seeing if your personalities are compatible is important before starting a job. Granted, not everyone can spend their free time with their soon to be boss, but staying connected with them, interacting with their circles, and being genuinely interested in what they're up to is a great start. People are more likely to hire people they know, so make yourself known!
Almost all of the work I do outside of Hewlko comes from either people seeing my work on instagram, or friends/family/old colleagues recommending me for jobs. The work I put out on Instagram is the “I’m not getting paid to do this, but I wish I was” work. Eventually, if people like that work, they will be commissioning you for it! Your skills are worth money, people just need to know you have those skills.
One of the biggest things I think that can throw off a lot of newer graduates is the intimidation factor. It can be hard to approach people so far ahead of you in their career, but keep in mind they were new to this at one point too. Don’t let that get in the way of going after the opportunities you want. As much as talent and experience are important, a lot comes down to how well you gel with someone so just take a deep breath, and act like you would when you meet a new friend. Confident, friendly, and interested in what that person has to say. After all, aren’t we all just people looking to do good work and to enjoy the people we work with?