Today I have some more advice from a 40-something who started her own event planning business 20 years ago and today teaches event management at NYU and has expanded her business to consulting young grads about branding “you” amongst other things. I shared her advice about relationships — never underestimate the power of them — a few weeks ago. Her point, always follow up with anyone you meet. If it’s someone who’s already established and successful in his or her career, don’t be intimidated to reach out. As long as you are sincere and grateful, they will most likely be honored that you valued something they imparted to you. A simple thank you, a word about something they said that you found interesting and what you learned. Don’t be afraid to say you are just starting out and appreciate the value that their experience brings. At the very least they will be flattered and on the upside they will be willing to help you out or remember you if your paths cross again.
The same goes for meeting people who are just starting out. She finds younger people often don’t value what is front of them in terms of what in means for what is ahead of them. In her class she tells everyone to look around at the people they are with. She tells them, “These are the people you are going to be doing business with in the future. You never know when your paths will meet again. Talk to them.” Many of them don’t follow up on that. Her advice…don’t minimize the potential in that. A lot of people don’t bother if they don’t see the upside right now. Talk to them. Find out a shared interest. Again, down the road if your paths do cross there will be a connection that goes beyond the superficial. Don’t only look to people as a potential employer or someone you can work with now. Get to know them on some level.
So many people expect an instant result. She told the story of a young dj she worked who she helped meet some industry people and show his stuff. He would get upset if he didn’t get a job a week later and complain that it didn’t really work out for him, saying, “I thought you said they thought I was good. I didn’t get a job.” It doesn’t happen that way. It may pay off later. A year later he’s working at a huge event for one of these people and couldn’t be happier.
Relationships don’t always have an immediate ROI. There is a tendency to not see the big picture. Maybe because when you are young you just don’t know yet. A relationship that may not mean that much this minute may mean something 20 steps a head. And it’s pretty obvious when someone dismisses you because they are thinking, “What are you going to do for me”. And if the tables turn someday they will likely remember that. So back to her main point. Be sincere. Be yourself. No B.S People want to work with people they like.