What My Previous Jobs Taught Me About Life

I’ve worked in several different jobs throughout the course of my life. Not only did I learn various skill sets from each of my experiences, but I learned valuable life lessons that come from them.

Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve drawn from my great and not-so-good job experiences:

Guess what? You’re not that special

It’s a competitive world out there and a lot of the times, you’re going to encounter situations where you think “It’s just not fair.” So and so was hired off the street and is just starting out in their career, while I have years of experience and should have gotten the promotion instead. 

Well, I hate to break it to you, but you’re not that special. Neither is he. Don’t assume that just because you have an amazing work ethic and a masters degree that you’re expected to be “the chosen one”. A lot of the times, it just doesn’t work that way. Others have just as much experiences as you do (although not the same). They’re just as knowledgeable with unique skill sets and perspectives they can bring to the table. Advancing in your career is a combination of many factors: luck, education, experience, character, and network.

But, you know more than you give yourself credit for

Don’t ever forget your value and how capable you are in whatever role you’re in. You’re able to tackle any task and challenge thrown at you, you just need to be confident in your abilities. You know more than you give yourself credit for, and sometimes you don’t realize that until you’re thrown into the situation where you have no choice but to face it head on and just..do it.

And…you’re not alone

We’re all in this together. We all want to move up the ladder, better ourselves, and make an impact. And we all work hard. In honesty, instead of complaining about your job and someone else’s success, be grateful for your job and be happy for them. Let their story motivate you and inspire you to do better. Behind the scenes, they were probably applying to a handful of jobs or having multiple coffee chats per week for months. Sometimes it’s luck and sometimes it’s hard work, but unhealthy comparison doesn’t do you any good.

Start from the bottom and work your way up

Ultimately, work is work. There isn’t a one size-fits-all type of job for anyone. You could be content working in more than one job, but you just need to choose one (or a few) and commit to it. 

You’re going to have to start from the bottom to gain experience and work your way up (especially if you’re in the beginning of your career or you’ve transitioned careers). And that’s perfectly okay. Create opportunities for yourself and go the extra mile.

It’s okay to not be there yet. Slow progress is still progress.

As long you’re growing and learning everyday, and persistently working towards your goals, then you’re in a good place. Just don’t let yourself be too comfortable and stagnant. Make sure you always find ways to keep thriving.

Remember to…stay focused on your own path

Maybe this job is only temporary while you’re focusing on something else on the side. Or you want the best of both worlds—to have a stable job and to also do work that you’re passionate about, as a side hustle.

You might have a colleague, friend, family member, or a random stranger who doesn’t know you at all—give you unsolicited advice. Take others’ advice with a grain of salt. Stay focused on what you want. You don’t even need to explain yourself.

Reality is…work is gonna suck. You’re not always going to love what you do.

I’m not saying don’t go after that dream job or don’t chase your passion. I’m saying take everything into account, all aspects of the job. You’re not going to love every bit of it, but do the pros outweigh the cons? Reflect on what you value most for work. Is it work-life balance? Work culture? Opportunities for advancement? Know yourself.

Patience is a virtue

Being stuck in traffic during my commute to and from work taught me patience. In the very beginning, I experienced road rage quite frequently. Over time, I realized that there was no point of me rushing and being angry. There’s nothing I can do, other than to be present. I enjoy watching the sunrise on my way to work. And to make my commute slightly better and more productive, I listen to podcasts. 

So, the same idea applies to the workplace. Maybe you’re “too good” for your current job. You’re underemployed, underpaid, or not being fully seen for your work (and that totally sucks). But be patient and have faith that your time will eventually come. Every experience leaves you with valuable life lessons, you might just have to look a little harder to find it.

Resilience is key

You’re going to make a ton of mistakes, especially when you first start out. You’re also going to make mistakes every time you learn a new task. And even then, you’re going to keep making mistakes ‘cause you’re human

You’re also going to get rejected again and again. Learn from it all. And learn to handle it through acceptance and persistence. Keep fighting for yourself. Years from now, you’re going to look back and laugh at all the times spent stressing over this, and how many tears you’ve shed (it’s okay to admit it). 

It’s okay to change gears…

You’re likely spending more time at work than anywhere else. So you better make damn sure you enjoy it. If you’re seriously considering transitioning into something new, whether it be a new position, department, field, industry…or even to relocate to a new city or country—then do it. It’s your decision to live with the consequences… and the benefits! In my personal experience, I never go wrong when I’m being true to myself. Good things will come. 

Embrace the chaos (this is all temporary)

You’re going to struggle big time. Literally, every single day. But it’s worth it right? Remind yourself why you’re in your current job. Make sure this “why” is worth struggling for.

Originally published on Thrive Global (April 12, 2019)

Feeling Burnt Out? 3 Simple Ways to Prioritize Your Energy Better

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Do you tend to spread yourself too thin and take on more than you can handle?

Your schedule is typically filled weeks in advance and you’re always running out and about doing things that drain your energy mentally, emotionally, and physically, as you tackle through each day.

You overwork yourself to meet heavy workloads and tight deadlines, taking little to no breaks and you find yourself overwhelmed and exhausted.

Your mind is restless, your body tense, and an uneasy feeling grows in your chest—all of which are clear signs that you’re burnt out.

It’s okay to feel burnt out—we’ve all been there.

It’s not just about managing your time, but managing your energy.

Here are 3 simple ways to prioritize your energy better so you will feel a lot less stressed out:

Do One Big Thing a Day

If you have a never-ending To Do list and spend a lot of time deciding on which task to tackle first—but end up getting little to nothing done at all—then you need to set some realistic goals for yourself each day. Set a goal to work on one big task a day (instead of multi-tasking) to increase concentration and productivity. You’ll be able to prioritize your tasks better, achieve a greater quality of work, and not beat yourself up for not completing other smaller tasks for the day.   

Spend 15 minutes on a Task

If you’re anything like me and you have a short attention span similar to that of a goldfish—then the goal to focus on a task for 15 minutes is a must-try to get more done everyday. This technique works best for smaller tasks that don’t require a lot of time (less than 15 minutes) such as checking and responding to emails and writing out your to-do list. It also works for bigger tasks too as the goal is to start with a minimum of 15 minutes. Over time you can set a goal to build up that time and get in the zone.

Reach Out to Your Personal Support System

As we all know, communication is key to every relationship—and the longest relationship you have is one with yourself. You need to learn to become more self-aware and practice self-love by scheduling time for yourself. But it also helps to reach out to your personal support system—whether it be your family, friends, colleagues, and mentors to hold you accountable for your goals or do work with you at public spaces.

Take advantage of any work perks you might have such as the Employee Assistance Program as speaking with a professional will not only provide you with assistance on different situations but a different perspective. Sometimes, we just need someone to be there to listen.

If your current state is affecting your work performance and you’re struggling to live in the present moment, then find out why you’re burnt out. Figure out what depletes your energy and manage your energy on what matters most, using various techniques as trial-and-error to prevent being burnt out.

Originally published at Live Your Potential (December 20th, 2018)

Published at Thrive Global

The Art of Career Transitions

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Do you dream of transitioning careers or are in the process of one?

In our generation today, transitioning into multiple careers is common. In an individual’s lifetime one will likely work in multiple different jobs, which will pave potential for multiple companies, roles, and paths. Many of us are generalists and jack-of-all-trades, who wear many hats and are well-rounded individuals with various passions, interests, and curiosities. We thrive on variety and perform well under different roles and tasks. We’re also the ones who are likely working on our side hustles or passion projects, pursuing work that sparks joy and fulfillment.

“People will look for jobs that give them the diversity of experience and skills that will enhance their personal mobility and opportunities rather than a conventional ‘career ladder’ set of skills”
– UK policy maker, the future of work report: jobs and skills in 2030

As exciting as career transitions can be, it’s also an intimidating decision to make for one’s professional journey. Sure, it brings about exciting changes with new experiences, challenges, and connections. Yet it’s also an act of bravery to take a leap of faith and embrace the unfamiliar path ahead. For many, it’s an extremely terrifying process because ultimately, you are a beginner again and need to put in the effort to master new and relevant skills. Leaving your comfort zone and making sacrifices along the way may bring heaps of uncertainty and self-doubts of, “What will others think?” and “Will it work out?”

As someone who has transitioned in multiple roles and industries from healthcare to education and now government, I know first-hand how difficult the process can be. As an advocate for career exploration, I’m constantly seeking opportunities for professional growth and learned many hard lessons along the way. But through it all, I’ve built identity capital from my diverse experiences, and bring forth the transferable skills to diverse roles and industries while cultivating passion in the workplace.

Earlier last month, I’ve had the honour to attend the Live Your Potential Talk Series: The Art of Career Transitions, where a diverse group of panelists shared their wealth of experiences as well as the strategies and insights they’ve gained for successful career transitions. It was obvious to see how the topic spoke to many people, as it was a full house event. Here’s a brief summary of what I learned from each of the inspiring speakers from that evening.

Akhil Mittal: Co-Founder & VP of Product & Operations, Directive Communication Systems 

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Akhil is an entrepreneur who has transitioned from leadership positions in the corporate world to co-founding his own company. His decision in transitioning careers came from the excitement of finding opportunities elsewhere. Feeling that he was tied down by the boundaries of his previous role, he sought out insights from colleagues which helped him realize that he needed to create a change and do something different. He knew what his core values are, one of which is flexibility.

Sometimes having too many options is confusing, so his main advice for others is to know how to play your strengths and execute them. Understand what you’re getting yourself into when you decide to transition in your career, make the commitment, learn on the job, and eventually, your passions will uncover. Be willing to take risks as failure shapes who you are, and the worst that could happen is that you’ll be richer in experiences. When it comes to networking for aspiring entrepreneurs, go in with the intention of learning and meeting others regardless of the outcome, but also find a business partner who you can work with and support one another.

Amanda Lee: Senior Replenishment Manager, Walmart Canada 

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Amanda has transitioned quite frequently over the last few years in various roles within the same industry and even within the same company, consistently improving from her previous position. What triggered her to take action is when she’s at a point of her career where she finds herself bored in her current role; that’s when she feels the strong desire to learn a new set of skills in a new position. Based on her personal experience, her advice is to map out the next two years of your life.

Understand that you will never be fully ready for a transition, but be prepared and vocal about what you truly want. Know your style of what works for you and what doesn’t. Amanda references Picasso’s years of deliberate practice on his craft to success as a reminder for us to work on mastering our own craft. When it comes to selling yourself in an interview, own it by doing your research, being open about your weaknesses and demonstrating unshakeable confidence.

Su-Nam Kim, President, Eyeshot Media Inc. 

Su-Nam has the unique experience of successfully transitioning from an engineer to corporate executive and now the president of his own company. Having transitioned in multiple roles and industries, he shares his “secret” to success. His key advice is to always work hard and demonstrate the willingness to learn no matter the position. Demonstrate the transferable skills gained from your diverse experiences and communicate well with others to prove that you are a true leader. Ensure you have exposure to cross-functional projects and network to market yourself. Find a common ground, making sure you have a baseline for deeper engagement and stay connected with your contacts.

When it comes to successful entrepreneurship, learn everything you need to know to be your own boss and work with partners with specific skill sets for delegation and support. Su-Nam also speaks the truth that your work doesn’t have to line up with your passion. Realistically, find some aspects of your job that you like. His final piece of advice is that it’s okay to make mistakes. “Make mistakes but acknowledge it, then find a solution to the problem and you will be remembered for it.

Angie Kim, Category Director, Loblaw Companies Ltd 

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Angie excelled in various positions and relocated multiple times throughout her career. As challenging as it was, she provides concrete advice on how she managed this transition financially, professionally, and emotionally.

Financially, she points out that good companies invest in their employees to retain their talent. Know your worth and negotiate for support, whether it is your mortgage for relocation or other financial hurdles. Professionally, she reminds us: “Don’t chase job titles but rather the path to success.” She stresses the importance of investing in what you want and making sure that your professional goals align with your mission. As for emotionally managing the transition, make decisions when you are at your best with a healthy frame of mind. Make sure that you’re at a stable state and don’t allow your transition to be about escaping reality.

When it comes to “selling” yourself, believe in yourself and highlight your transferable skills. When you have a greater purpose, it drives you above your fears. Identify what makes you great and what empowers you in order to make the right career decisions.

Career transitions do not have to be seen negatively; think of it as an investment in yourself as your way of designing a life you love. Ask yourself if your current position helps you grow both personally and professionally and “Is it good enough?” as of now. As long as there are continuous progression and engagement in your work, whether or not you decide to move within the company or transfer to an entirely different one that may be out of your current field is your own personal choice.

Commit to a decision and as you continue to evolve in your career, your values and priorities will change along with your choices. Through it all, don’t ever feel stuck choosing one thing as there is no one path to success. Instead, reinvent a career that fits your lifestyle, expertise, and ambitions.

Originally published on Live Your Potential (July 31, 2018)

How to Stay Connected With a Mentor

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When you think back to all the inspirations in your life, do you have mentors who have shaped you into the successful and confident person you are today?

Over the years, I connected with many empowering individuals who share their wisdom and stories with me. Through these conversations, I learned I wasn’t completely alone in my journey of self-discovery and career exploration. Their words of advice stuck with me, and I developed a strong mentor-mentee relationship with some.

I had a mentor who helped me achieve a mindset shift of growth and abundance, encouraging me to travel the world and live my passions. Another helped me dive deep into my personal brand and taught me the importance of being consistent both in-person and online. Every single one has taught me a lot about networking and building lasting relationships.

So, how do you stay connected with your mentors?

Provide Value by Being Resourceful

Give back to your mentors by sharing your resources with them as they did with you. You want to become resourceful and offer any help that you can. Ask them, “What are you currently working on?” and “How can I help?” Use your creative problem-solving skills on what you can do for them instead of the relationship being solely on how they can help you.

It’s always useful to share any helpful articles and books or opportunities that you know of such as conferences and workshops. Share resources relevant to their profession and industry for their personal and professional growth. It’s a thoughtful, simple gesture that will be greatly appreciated by anyone. Another way to provide value is to think about your network and who you can connect your mentors with; remember that opportunities come from people and goals can be achieved with the help of others.

Show Support by Promoting their Work

Figure out what your mentors are working on whether it is a freelance project, an online program, or any client service and show support by promoting their work to your network. You can share their work via social media platforms such as writing a tweet about their event on Twitter or sharing the article they wrote on Facebook.

If you’ve participated in their program or worked with them directly, you can write a recommendation on LinkedIn and endorse their skills. You can also create a testimonial for their website. If you work with them, you can propose creative ideas, offer hands-on help, or volunteer your time on additional projects. There are plenty of ways to show support for your mentors, and the traditional word-of-mouth to your trusted network can serve to benefit both parties looking for the specific connections and positive change in their lives.

Nurture the Relationship by Expressing Gratitude

One of my greatest takeaways from the Live Your Potential program is the significance of nurturing your relationships as an integral part of networking and increasing your emotional intelligence. Sending a quick thank-you email for their time spent with you within the week you met them for coffee shows your appreciation. You’re fresh on their mind, leaving a positive impression and showcasing your personal brand. Following-up several times a year is the key to maintain the relationship. Genuinely ask how they’re doing, how you can help and follow their updates on social media, while consistently being resourceful and sharing their work.

Holiday greetings and birthday wishes are the best opportunities to reach out and re-connect. Express gratitude for everything you do —it’s always a joy for them to hear updates about your journey and any successes from their help, or your own hard-earned effort paying off.

Your mentors want to hear from you—they want to see you succeed. Maintain ongoing contact with your mentors; you never know if you’ll need their help in the nearby future and vice versa. There may even be a possibility of a partnership. To build long-lasting relationships with your professional connections, it’s as simple as putting in the thought and effort.

Originally published on Live Your Potential (April 27, 2018)

Why Everyone Needs a Mentor

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Everyone needs a mentor, no matter where they are in life. It doesn’t matter how old you are or whether or not you’re already where you want to be—there is always room for growth and improvement.

I have several mentors who have made a tremendous impact in my life. After struggling for a number of years as a lost leader, I’ve grown a lot as a person through their insightful guidance and advice. I’ve learned everything from strategic career planning, authentic networking, and building my personal brand, to achieving an abundant mindset while living with passion and purpose.

Here’s what I learned about how mentorship serves to be beneficial for everyone:

Holds You Accountable For Your Goals

Find a mentor who will encourage, motivate and challenge you to live beyond your wildest potential. A mentor who will help you set realistic goals that align with your purpose. One who will dive deep and ask you personal and thought-provoking questions that will enhance your focus, clarity, and self-awareness. Your mentor is your accountability buddy; someone who will guide you to stay on track from distractions and limiting beliefs.

Before graduating from university, I met with a mentor regularly to discuss my dreams and goals in life. We discussed actionable steps, and I received honest and constructive feedback throughout my journey. Eventually, my mindset shifted, and I became braver and more confident with every step I took. I continued to put myself out there and shared my vision, passion and work with the world.

Provides Opportunity to Share Industry Expert Advice and Resources

One of the most invaluable experiences of mentorship for me was building the connection over coffee meetings and informational interviews. I’ve reached out to others in-person at conferences as well as online, requesting to meet or talk for further connection. From these meetings, I learned more about their industry, company, position, and background as to how they got to where they are today. Preparing for and asking the right questions allowed me to learn more about various career opportunities and resources for career advancement.

The year I graduated from university, I wanted to gain internship experience for a specific industry. I attended my first conference and spoke to many people. I followed up with them, and one individual in particular complimented me on my exemplary networking skills, and we met for coffee. Through our conversation I was offered an internship on the spot—it was indeed one of the best opportunities I created for myself. I learned a lot from that internship, and he became my mentor and a strong reference for my work position overseas the following year.

Helps Expand Your Network

Sharing your vision, accomplishments, and struggles will help you build your relationship with your mentor. Every time you connect with someone in-person or online, whether or not they will become your mentor long-term is not important. Through every conversation, you will develop new skills, share knowledge, and learn from different perspectives. Be open and vulnerable in-person and online and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’d be surprised who will notice you, offer to help, promote you, or even introduce you to someone in their network. Genuinely ask for introductions and offer to do the same. Your network will expand and so will your mastermind group of like-minded, ambitious individuals who share similar visions and mindset.

My current mentor, Dr. Jean Kim, was a connection I made a few years ago when I reached out to ask her for teaching advice. She had the opportunity to read my online blog post one day, where I shared my work overseas experience. She was impressed by my work, and the year I returned home I was offered the opportunity to join her team at the Live Your Potential (LYP) Program. She genuinely believes in my potential and my ability to provide valuable content for the LYP community. Today, she continues to support my work, promote me, and introduce me to her network.

The power of mentorship is that it’s an investment in your personal and professional development and is mutually beneficial for both parties involved. Find a mentor who is a role model and inspiration, someone who will invest in your growth and well-being—you’ll accelerate to greater heights with the help of others. Find a mentor but become one too—and pay it forward.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Mentorship Series: “How to Stay Connected With a Mentor.”

Originally published on Live Your Potential (January 29th, 2018)

LYP Grads, Where Are They Now?

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Are you looking to gain the leadership skills and confidence to succeed professionally in your career? 

The LYP program is a great opportunity to create the change you want in your life. Co-founded by the highly professional and award-winning educators Dr. Jean Kim and Lilit Simonyan, the 2.5-day program is dedicated to empowering women to celebrate their worth and live their full potential.

In our 2-part ‘LYP Grads, Where are they now?’ series, we highlight the stories of a number of talented alumnae. After completing the program, they’ve gained a greater sense of self-awareness while having fully leveraged their skills and strengths to career success.  In Part 1, we share the stories of Arevik (Special Projects Manager & 2016 LYP Grad) and Sujung Lee (Marketing Specialist & 2016 LYP Scholarship Recipient):

Where were you prior to joining the LYP program?  Why did you decide to join the LYP program?

Arevik: Several months before joining the LYP program, I was promoted to a senior management position. I decided to join the program to gain valuable insight on leadership development.

Sujung: Prior to joining the LYP program, I was a year into my job at the IT industry. I felt lost in my long-term plans and was looking to gain personal and professional development in my work. My industry is male-dominated and I wanted to be fully prepared and confident in my workplace, but I felt that I lacked the level of professionalism to succeed. I discovered the program and scholarship opportunity from my connection Jean, which was exactly what I was looking for.

Where are you now in your professional life & how do you apply the program learnings in your career? What has been the biggest improvement/gain since taking the program? Please be specific (income, promotion, network, new career opportunities, growing into a leader, more recognition from etc) 

Arevik:  I currently assume the role of Manager – Special Projects at CCR Business Information Limited. I am engaged in various types of projects ranging from IT system development to employee production improvement. The LYP program geared me with excellent negotiation tools and helped me to grow into a leader. I feel more confident now during network events and feel ready to take more challenges.

Sujung: I hold a position as a marketing specialist and have immensely gained the confidence to speak in front of crowds of people without feeling nervous or incapable. The greatest change since taking the program has been my boost of confidence and the ability to negotiate a raise for my current position. My mindset prior was that asking for a raise was an act of arrogance. Through the program, I realized that my company won’t keep me there if they don’t think I’m doing a great job. I’ve felt the enlighten moment where I appreciate the work I do and feel comfortable enough to ask for what I truly deserve.

Do you stay involved with the LYP community of mentors and alumna? If so, how?  

Arevik: I am always happy to attend the events organized by LYP program. The recent talk series were a wonderful opportunity to meet the founders of the program and the alumna.

Sujung:  I’ve been in contact with both mentors Jean and Lilit for a private panel discussion and networking event that was part the program.  I didn’t start off as a confident speaker and has experienced difficulty speaking in front of others with a shaky voice. Jean has helped me speak more professionally and has given me the opportunity to moderate the panel discussion in May. It was an extremely memorable moment for me to improve my public speaking skills. The program also has a private LinkedIn group for alumnae to stay in touch. We were introduced to a network of professionals to connect with both online and in-person at the events.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to women who are experiencing the challenges you faced before the program?

Arevik: I would advise everyone to look at the challenge as an opportunity to grow. Having a plan and working diligently towards the plan will always pay off.

Sujung: My advice for anyone thinking about investing in their future is to take the program. Don’t be afraid, you have what it takes in you. You just have to show it. As women, we tend to say “sorry” often but we shouldn’t be apologetic about ourselves. We need to give ourselves more credit for coming this far; to not be so hard on ourselves.

What’s next for you? What are your career aspirations now? 

Arevik: I want to bring positive change and improvements anywhere I am working at. The knowledge acquired at LYP program will help me to bring to life all my plans and dreams.

Sujung: I want to be known as a diligent and responsible individual that performs well and exceed expectations. I want to continue to live a fulfilling lifestyle and obtain a managerial role in the nearby future.

Both Arevik and Sujung are prime examples of brave women who have learned life-long tools to produce desirable results. Now, they empower and educate other women to do the same. There is an abundant amount of positive energy that surrounds the LYP community where everyone is extremely engaging and encouraging for others to live their potential.

The original Q&A article was written for Live Your Potential (LYP) blog. (January 10th, 2018)

Live Your Potential is a leadership and career development program that educates, nurtures, and empowers motivated and ambitious professional women to live their fullest potential. Follow LYP showcase page on LinkedIn.

Tina Chow is a visionary changemaker, avid traveler, and passionate writer. She empowers leadership, personal growth, and career development through her creative content.

The Mindset You Need to Master Networking

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My first article is finally published on 10K Coffees!  (March 2016)

My first article is finally published on 10K Coffees! (March 2016)

Networking changed my life last year, so I wanted to share my insights since. Not only did I land my dream internship prior to graduation, I also met so many incredibly inspiring souls all over the world.

Master networking with the right mindset.

Did you know that 80% of jobs are found through networking?

Networking can be a very intimidating process. It is especially daunting for introverts, the unemployed and recent graduates starting out in their career. But it can be a whole lot of fun if you do it right with the right kind of mindset.

I definitely wasn’t very confident when I first started. But every time I show up for a conference, event, or coffee meeting, I remind myself several things to be confident with whomever I come across.

It’s all about connecting with others and building relationships.

I enjoy meeting new people and connecting with people of diverse backgrounds and differing personalities from all over the world. But what I love the most is finding my tribe of people who share similar interests, values, and open you to new perspectives on life. Although conferences can be nerve-wracking, every time I show up I tell myself, I am here to make new friends and learn from others who have been through what I’m going through right now, are doing exactly what I want to do, or are simply inspiring. These people are my role models; they are exactly who I want to become. A few have even become my mentors. Either way, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” - Bill Nye

Be your authentic self.

It isn't easy introducing yourself to others, especially reputable industry experts with over ten years of experience. But when you talk about your passions, opinions, concerns and ideas to make the change in this world, you will surprise others with your undeniable vision and burning desire. Express genuine curiosity about others and ask many questions about themselves— you want to form a real, lasting connection.

We are all equal – and human.

It is easy to step into a room and feel completely out of place amongst the crowd. You're an unemployed recent graduate, and you barely have any experience or insights to share. The speaker up front is the CEO of your dream company, a 4x TEDX speaker, or a multimillionaire entrepreneur. Everyone is surrounding him and you're intimidated to approach him because you don't feel good enough. Why should he talk to me? Why would he want to help me? What do I have to offer?

Remember, you have just as much to offer as he does. He can very much learn something from you. He is a speaker for a reason, he may be more open to your questions or to help you than you would think. Don't compare your chapter one with someone else's chapter 20. They are successful now because of all the failure and mistakes they had to overcome. Go up there, shake his hand firmly and introduce yourself. Don't be surprised when others approach you or invite you to coffee.

Enjoy the process and don’t be attached to the outcome.

You will email someone and never hear back from them. You may reach out in person, only to be disappointed because they don't have the time to talk to you. They will be busy, they may not want to talk to you, and they may have many other requests for coffee. Don't take it personally and don't make up stories in your head. Follow up if you really want to talk to this person. Be genuine about your request, but if it doesn't work out, then move on. Remember, nobody owes you an interaction like you don't owe anyone one either. Don't network or attend a coffee meeting with the expectations of obtaining a job, internship, partnership, or clients. Networking isn't just about you.

Always ask, "How can I help?"

You show up at a conference because you have an intention, whether it is to obtain a job or to grow your business. Ultimately, you want to think about how you can help the other person that you're interacting with. Don't ask them to buy your product or service, find out what they're currently working on and always ask, "how can I help?" There are more ways you can help than you would know - share your network, write a testimonial, share their content, show your enthusiasm in what they do and show gratefulness for the advice and insights you've received. Let them know when you've succeeded with their help. Give more than you receive. Keep the connection ongoing, because you never know where things will lead to.

The power of networking is that all opportunities come from people. Believe it or not, you unconsciously network on a daily basis. When it comes to your career or personal matters, it is just the same. With a positive attitude, you will attract passionate, ambitious, and like-minded individuals like yourself.

Published at Thrive Global (April 14, 2019)