If you are in business school, you likely already know what you want to be in a few years: a businessman.
So as part of your education, you can do more than just network through parties and the classroom. You can start to adapt the way you think about people; view new acquaintances as people you can help, rather than people you might just get along with. That way, once you walk off the stage at convocation, you’ve already taken care of some of the more difficult aspects of your introduction to the world of business.
The toughest part of your first few years in any business will be turning yourself into the quintessential businessperson. You will have to take on the characteristics of your new occupation and become a member of the field.
Fortunately, this is something you can start working on today. Facebook is a great starting point. Are you the kind of person who will “friend” someone and invite them to a party after meeting them once? Or are you hesitant to contact somebody you don’t feel you really know?
International investment firm Edward Jones Company’s website requires potential employees to take a psychological exam before filling out an application. The test is the company’s way of gauging whether or not you might make a good financial advisor. It consists of a series of multiple choice questions designed to see what kind of salesperson you will be.
The questions assess the applicant’s ability to meet new people, speak to them about a company’s product line, follow up and then, ultimately, gain their business. The company encourages you to go out in public and talk to strangers on the street or push your family friends for meetings. Basically, they’re asking you to create something out of nothing.
There are always opportunities to start becoming more gregarious and making your identity stand out immediately. Just like being proficient at Word and Excel, these are skills you’ll want to already have in your toolkit well before entering the job market. Getting out there, talking to strangers and reaching out to new people will sharpen your ability to read people, all the while increasing your list of contacts. Just think of how impressive your Rolodex will be if you start networking now.
The engineering, science, management and arts students of your graduating year will all need financial advisors and accountants after finishing school.
If you meet new people and maintain contact with them you will easily have a leg up on your fellow business graduates; you will have a list of potential clients even before these potential clients know they’re going to need your services. In addition, meeting one new person will increase your network exponentially – the more people you know, the more casual conversations you’ll be able to have about your business down the road with them and their friends.
James Cummins is a features writer for U Magazine and the author of Ambrosia: About a Culture.