I’m now 3 months into my new job at as Marketing Executive at Makers Academy (a 12 week coding bootcamp). The people I work with are pretty awesome, I have a good job marketing a course that transforms peoples lives from pretty much any random background to junior developersI knew of Makers Academy as we were a hiring partner and we hired our developer from them. Makers Academy is a pretty exciting growing startup and because of that very reason, it’s super important the new colleagues fit in with their culture. I had about 5 interview rounds, from email and CV, to the interview with the director, to another directer, to doing a marketing task, to and interview with the marketing exc to then finally meeting the CEO. . Technical skills are important but a lot of the times the one thing that trumps one candidate over another is the ability to get on with others and cultural fit and with that comes to ability to be able to build trust and meaningful relationships quickly.
Recently however I’ve been thinking about all the people over the last year that I’ve somehow connected with and bought into the fold of “The Network”. After university however I hardly had that so when I lost my job things were pretty tough I wasn’t quite sure where to start with job hunting which was complete contrast to the startup failing. The startup gave me SUCH exposure to people from a variety of different companies. Companies I respect highly. I send a lot of emails to people from “The Network” and a lot of these people I had met only once or maybe they saw me pitch and present but somehow I had built this web around me of people who were willing to give me their time, meet me for coffee, give me advice and introduce me to others. It’s okay if there was no job going in there company but if a job came along that they thought was relevant to me they would ping it over to me and that in it self is enough to help get you a job.
I don’t come from a family where the adults around me had “career” they all had jobs. Mainly manual jobs to make ends meet and their ambition was to get their children into universities and for them to end up in white collar jobs and I’m proud to say my parents have achieved that ambition by giving us all alhumdilliah a better life. As my dad used to say “work hard now so you don’t have to work like a dog like me for the rest of your life”
I remember once sitting with someone who I met on work-experience at Channel 4 in Shoreditch House. We were discussing if anyone regardless of background can climb up the social ladder if they tried and he turned around to me and said “look at you, you are sitting in Shoreditch House with someone who used to work at Channel 4”.
3 years ago I had no idea what Shoreditch house was, or the kind of people that hang out there. Slowly I’ve been exposed to a world that I had no idea existed and even sometimes I still feel like the outsider/imposter but I have worked hard to get here but the one thing that sometimes I do feel uncomfortable for is have I just become one of them? Using my connections to climb up the ladder? What about the young people (or arfah aged 16) that didn’t have and found it hard to get a break in the world?). But as a colleague once said to me aslong as you do your bit to try give back then it’s fine to use your networks and because naturally one of my strengths is the connector and I love to connect people to people or opportunities so I’m able to keep the walls down and help others achieve their goals and climb the ladder.
I’m going to leave this post on 3 pointers on how to connect and build your networks regardless of your background.
1) Give your time: Doing little favours for people, volunteering for projects, charities etc all help. I’m lucky to be involved in Spark+Mettle which helped to facilitate my initial connections with amazing people but people are everywhere and it doesn’t matter where you are, everyone has a story and you can find that mutual ground to help each other and if not they can open doors to people they know for you. When you meet someone and you play it right they can open a door to their whole network base.
2) It’s never about the quantity but the quality: Confession I’m actually really rubbish at networking events. I find it hard to approach people and say hello but somehow I’m good at carrying a conversation and ending it and walking away (Tip: Hand your business card, shake hands and walk away) and sometimes I may only walk away with one or two business cards from the whole evening but sometimes that is all you need. Building a meaningful relationship where you have common ground is much more important then adding numbers to your Linkedin address book.
3) Social media: I am from the generation that grew up on MSN. Some of my MSN friends that I spoke to as a teenager are now great contacts in the professional world! Social media reflects who you are, be genuine and let your personality come through. Don’t be afraid to send things you find interesting to people or even engage in talk about your lunch. These little things help to build a relationship so be aware of it.