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Golden Guide Career Advice: Grow Your Contact List

Lydia Lazar

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Golden Tip No. 8: ABC=Always Be Connecting

Golden Guide Career Advice is a new series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

There is no substitute for face-to-face socializing when it comes to creating professional options. Your next opportunity can emerge directly or indirectly from someone you meet at an event. You invest in yourself every time you exchange contact information with someone new.

In addition to your spreadsheet of connections from inner circle family and friends, you should make a list of other people you’d like to meet and a game plan for meeting them.

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  • Do some research and find 10 (or more) people or companies working in areas that interest you.

  • Identify alumni of your college who have made careers in the fields in which you are interested.

Strategize how you will grow your contacts and reach out to the people on your list. For school alumni, you can usually reach out by email or through LinkedIn. For professionals where you don’t have an obvious connection, consider the following steps:

  • Find a conference where they will be on a panel. If you can, reach out ahead of time using social media to let them know of your interest in meeting them. Introduce yourself and tell them your dream for yourself. Ask questions that relate to the panel you just saw them on, or that relate to the industry more generally.

  • To grow your network, go to events and conferences and immerse yourself in the world you want to join. Don’t be intimidated and think creatively about how to connect with the people you want to meet. For example, if you recognize a person in line for coffee, introduce yourself by saying you enjoyed (or are looking forward to) their presentation, or that you liked a recent article they wrote. Be specific if you can, e.g. “I really liked the way you linked ideas about branding with actual sales data for the products you discussed.”

  • Seek out like-minded people in clubs and professional organizations—be aware that many professional organizations offer student rates and access to job postings.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.