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How to Build Your Career Network When You Don’t Know Anyone

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You’ll often hear that when it comes to starting your career that “it’s all about who you know.” But what if you don’t know anyone?

It’s hard when you need career advice, and you don’t have any contacts who can guide you along the way – or even vouch for your candidacy when you start applying for jobs. But guess what? You can start your own connections.

To do this, you’ll need to learn how to cold call or cold email professionals for advice. As a college student or a recent grad, you have a lot of leverage when it comes to reaching out — people want to help young talent grow and succeed.

While it seems awkward at first, you can open so many doors for yourself just by having the guts to reach out. Adam Feldman, now the Senior Product Manager at Twitter, interned at Forbes.com during his freshman year of college, and ended up cold calling the office of Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the U.N. As a result of that call, the world leader ended up writing a featured piece for the magazine.

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Cory Sullivan, who manages Operations & Development at Crafted Hospitality, a restaurant chain founded by Tom Colicchio, one of the leading chefs in America, reached out to to his career idol, Danny Meyer after reading his book “Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business.” Danny Meyer ended up responding and giving him the opportunity to work alongside him.

You can and should reach out to accomplished professionals – if you don’t, you could miss out on getting incredible advice and mentorship from incredible people.

Find someone you admire at your dream company, in your dream industry, or in your dream position. Whether you’re cold calling or emailing, make sure that you aren’t saying or writing something generic; it’s incredibly important to do your research.

You’re much more likely to get a great response if you show that you’re truly invested and serious about getting the right advice. Identify an impressive initiative or project that the company or the person you’ve reached out to has just completed and talk about how it has inspired the way you think about your own career path.

READ MORE: The most powerful meeting that you’re not having. 

Finally, you should add, “If you have time, I would love to meet for coffee or have a quick phone call to learn more about what I can do to as I navigate my own career path.” The worst thing that can happen is that you either won’t get a response or the person you’ve reached out to will say no.

If you master the art of opening doors for yourself, you’ll be less and less intimidated by seemingly out-of-reach opportunities. So take a leap of faith and commit to reaching out to as many people as you can.

By Kema Christian-Taylor

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Campus Contributors are a select group of recognized leaders and experts in topics relating to college students.