This past Wednesday, I was granted the opportunity to speak to rising college freshmen who have been participating in one of Goodwill's youth program designed for at-risk, disadvantaged students. This is very important to me as I was once one of them.
Using a very creative powerpoint presentation dressed in all of my photography and drawings, I discussed the "The Importance of Networking: Networking Your Way to Your Dreams." I told them I networked my way to my ultimate dream, becoming an attorney. I showed them how through three stories. I had networked my way through a bad lay off with Lowe's to starting my business; through a hard sale to close when I once was an Account Executive at the Charlotte Observer; and then ultimately showed them how I acquired over $6000 in bar prep materials that eventually led to me to passing the bar. Our youth, our at risk youth (as they call them), need to see that you can make a way out of what appears to be no way.
Highlights from the Presentation:
- Create a Social Calendar for the Semester: Outline 4 objectives in the upper right corner of a blank calendar and research events/conferences that will land you a room with people you should know in order to accomplish those goals. Put these events on your calendar. Commit to them.
- One extremist might schedule two social events a night. It's practical to attend 3-4 events a week if you manage your time and workload accordingly.
- Pay Attention to the Nudge: Instincts are everything when networking. Don't associate yourself with people who are unwilling to reciprocate knowledge and services in return. Also, when you're speaking about your dreams to others, don't forget that your dreams are truly yours, and some people won't be able to reconcile your dreams with how you appear before them. They'll see it in the end. Your nudge, your instinct to fulfill a dream, was given to you by a higher power, and no one is privy to your communication with your higher power. Marinate on that.
- Network Your Way Through Your Milestones, Peaks, and Valleys: Every milestone, peak, and valley are but pit stops along your journey to living out your dreams. Enjoy the process. Network your way through this process. You'll develop a bank of knowledge that people will eventually pay for.
- Network Your Way to Free Books: If these students are attending college programs that do not offer rental books (like Appalachian State University did in 2002), then these students will benefit from linking up with other students who have access to free/discounted books, study materials, and more.
- Network Your Way to a Better Lifestyle: Our degree is the golden ticket to get on the train, but our network provides transfers! Explained: knowledge leads you to better opportunities, but your network will provide you with transfers to even more tailored opportunities.
- Don't Forget to Send the Elevator Back Down: Pay it forward. As I am here teaching you, pleading with you to continue to be great, share this with others, so that we can build a better community for those who will come after us.
Thanks again to the good people of Goodwill, a special thanks to Kwain! And I look forward to presenting more to our young people ... everywhere!