Imagine having companies approach you instead of you approaching companies for jobs or business deals?
I graduated from NBS just a year ago in 2016, bringing with me a couple of life lessons and habits that have helped me grow my business and career.
Personally, I’ve received personal emails from company CEOs where they’ve invited me to have coffee with them without me sending their company a single letter or resume. Some of the messages even came into my Facebook inbox.
Think it’s impossible? Think again.
Because by applying these 3 principles, you’ll be able to be that must closer to standing out from the crowd in this competitive environment and achieving your dream career goals.
Bear in mind that I was not the valedictorian of my school nor am I particularly smarter than my peers. In fact, a lot of my peers are even more talented and smarter than I am. I’m also not a SEA games athlete nor do I have straight A’s in all my modules.
I just did what was practical in the real business world. If I can do it, so can you.
I want to share some of the real practical tips with you.
1. It’s not what you know but who knows you
Why is it that at school, conversations always revolved around the same old topics?
“Where can I get the best internships?”
“What is the proper way to pray to the bell curve god so that I can get first class honours?”
“How can I make myself stand out so that I can get into the bank or big 4 that I dream of?”
We mug day and night, sacrifice sleep and join tons of CCAs because we all want to craft a good future for ourselves by the time we graduate.
Not only for business students, any university student in the world would have these questions on their mind every day.
Even if you aren’t thinking about it, you are unconsciously working towards that goal every day when you study and attend classes.
Of course, occasionally you would have a few trolls like me who go to university just so that I learn how to start my own business. Nothing wrong with that.
We all have our own unique goals and dreams. Here is the problem…..
If that dream job of yours is also eyed by other straight A students who are all-rounders just like you, what would you do?
They also won international case competitions, dominated their sport and are presidents of multiple clubs in their university.
What now then? Before I present you the solution, let me give you a simple scenario.
If your friend asks you to recommend a photographer for their event today, the first thought in your mind is to go through your own contacts first isn’t it?
If on the other hand, you are looking for a good hairdresser, would you ask for a recommendation from your friends first or would you prefer to Google and spend those hours looking through all the website reviews?
Don’t you think that getting a recommendation from people you know is what most people would do first?
Don’t you think that when it comes to a HR manager of a company, they would also prefer recommendations over a cold email from an applicant and going through tons of resumes?
Understand that in business, it’s all about the RELATIONSHIPS.
Your clients and suppliers won’t ask whether you’ve gotten straight A’s when you were in NBS.
Nobody cares about how many business textbooks you’ve read in university.
They will do business with you if they know you enough to trust you. Trust comes from people we know and people who are recommended by people we know.
That is why we all prefer recommendations over Googling and receiving cold emails.
My point here is this:
Get out there and network!
Yes! Instead of staying in the library and reading books, sometimes it will serve you more by putting yourself out there in front of people and getting to know them.
About 60% of my business opportunities to date came from referrals, meaning having others recommend me for a particular service.
This is not to say that studying is not important. By all means, do the best you can to get your straight A’s and dominate your field.
What I mean is that you should not neglect networking altogether just so that you can spend more time with your textbooks. I made this mistake when I was in year 1. I was a 100% committed bookworm back then.
As an introvert, I still convinced myself to a networking event at least once a month to get to know new people. It’s not natural for me but I still did it (You can relate if you’re an introvert).
When you put yourself out of your comfort zone to get to know new people every month, lots of opportunities will present itself to you down the road.
With that said, take the business relationship slowly. Instead of just giving out your business cards and hoping that something will magically happen one day, add value to them first.
People will not care how much you know until they know how much you care about them.
This will help you build a long-term win-win relationship that will serve you in the long run.
2. You become who you have lunch with
Doesn’t matter if it is having coffee or lunch, who you hang around with most of the time is going to define who you will become.
It’s easy for a lot of us to hang around with people who are fun to be around with. They will tell you jokes all day, gossip and talk about any stuff under the sun.
But when you tell them about your big dreams and plans for this year they’ll be like…
“Bro/sis why the heck are you so boring? Relax lah!”
“LOL! What makes you think that you can achieve it?”
There is nothing wrong with hanging out with them if you want a life that is all chillax and you don’t mind living a mediocre existence for the rest of your life.
Too many people don’t achieve their dreams because they are afraid that their friends will not accept them anymore if they decide to dream too big or do big things.
They stop dreaming the moment that thought of feeling left out comes across their mind. So, they downplay their own abilities just so that they can impress people who forever can’t be impressed.
Here’s the thing. You would have realized by now that you tend to talk, walk and even dress like the people that you spend most of your time with. Eventually, your income will also be similar to theirs.
Do the friends that you sit beside with in lecture support you in your dreams no matter how crazy they sound? Do they inspire you? Do you want to become just like them?
If the answer is yes to all of these questions, then keep them. If it’s not, then some things really need to change.
It’s not about unfriending them completely and be mean to them, it’s just that you need to spend less time with them and instead spend more time with those that are in line with your long-term goals.
Are your dreams more important or is impressing others more important?
I think you know the answer by now.
3. Happiness comes from giving than taking
I came into university in my first year thinking about what I can learn, what I can get out from university and what opportunities I can take advantage of.
Then came into the second year of NBS, I learned the things I wanted to learn and taken the opportunities that I wanted. I managed to achieve some of my goals but there was a feeling of emptiness inside me.
I realized that all I was doing in my freshman year was thinking about myself. Instead of thinking about how I can serve the university community, I was always thinking about what the university can give me.
I decided in my second year onwards not only to serve my university community, but also the students from other universities.
At that point of time, I was invited to conduct a seminar at NUS regarding personal finance. I also accepted the invitation to conduct a talk on currency trading, career crafting and public speaking for NBS and the other faculties.
While I do enjoy sitting in lectures and learning from my professors, I found that there is more satisfaction if I do the “lecturing” instead. Even if I wasn’t paid a single cent to conduct these talks for the universities, it was tremendously satisfying to serve and give back.
If your friend needs help in homework, help him/her with that because even if people don’t appreciate you for your help when exam ends, that satisfaction that you get from helping others is priceless.
Even if the satisfaction doesn’t last long, I believe in karma tremendously and it will come back to you down the road.
Ask not what your school can do for you, ask what you can do for your school.
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