Remember when you rejected your mom or dad’s advice, or even better, when your own kids blithely ignored everything you told them that would have certainly made their lives better? What if instead you could talk to someone who will hang on to every word? What if that someone was you?
Think of the sage and generous words of wisdom you could impart to a considerate and grateful, slightly younger you. To be more specific about this thought experiment, ponder what you would tell a younger version of yourself when you were just starting out in your career.
Berbay informally met with a group of people who work in various professional service firms – law, finance, real estate and others – to discuss this question.
The common thread among the advice these professionals said they would give their younger selves was: Network and build relationships as early as possible. Too many of us ignore networking, or don’t understand its value when we begin our career.
As you may know, networking is a way of marketing yourself. Connecting with as many people as possible allows you to build your brand. You essentially become your own business development project. The key, of course, is that when you need assistance, you can call on any number of people for help. In addition, you can be a resource for them, not just for the services you provide, but to refer them to others.
Sometimes your company will support your networking efforts by assigning you to a networking group or another association that works in a similar way. One of the members of our discussion group said that even if his company didn’t provide such an opportunity, he would make it happen for himself.
Another participant pointed out that acquiring a mentor is equally beneficial. An experienced colleague can analyze your ideas and will understand you well enough to provide support during difficult times.
All of the participants said they were educated by the hard knocks that might befall any of us in the course of a career. They were able to say from experience that it is much better to prepare for an event that doesn’t happen than to be surprised and unprepared by the ax that, in hindsight, was unerringly aimed at them.