By Mike Muhney
Soon, a new flock of college graduates will enter the workforce. While these fresh faces bring with them new skill sets and knowledge, many of them will no doubt arrive on the scene with little expertise in the arena of relationship management. Unfortunately, the era of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter has not equipped them particularly well in that regard. These graduates are about to enter a new stage of life and to that end, I’d like to share some advice I wish that I had been given at the start of my own career.
The transition from college campus to the work place represents one of the most distinct changes in life. If one thing is certain, college alone does NOT prepare students for its magnitude, not the way one would hope anyway. College life represents an insulated culture by default. Nearly always surrounded by others close to their own age, students express themselves with their peers with little thought to differences in perspectives or even principles gained from a career’s worth of experience. But new graduates will soon be required to mix among several generations at once.
Even if you have long since graduated, perhaps you have a family member or friend preparing to enter the workforce. Consider sharing this advice with them. You might want to brush up on your own relationship management skills, too.
Avoid the Most Common Cause of Failure
Napoleon Hill, the famed author of the longstanding and enormously successful book entitled “Think and Grow Rich”, was commissioned by Dale Carnegie to study the titans of industry like Ford and Rockefeller as to what they attributed their success and failures. Through his research, Hill was able to identify the three things that consistently led to failure. In reverse order, they were procrastination, quitting when the going gets tough, and the inability to get along with others.
That’s right; the greatest cause of failure is the inability to get along with other people! It’s such a simple principle that it doesn’t make sense that it’s the greatest reason people fail. Coming out of college, freely able to speak your mind, and identify with those in your network, the work world is quite a different playing field. The dimensions of personality, experience, bias, attitude, and perspectives create a variety of ways in which intended communication may be interpreted.
If failure is the result of one’s inability to get along with others, success comes from the opposite—developing quality relationships with those around you. True and lasting success is achieved through the quality, strength, sustainability, and references that only a strong network can provide. Developing and maintaining both your business and personal networks will be a lifelong endeavor. Balance humility with confidence, be determined yet open-minded, and keep in mind that friendliness, respect, and courtesy will always trump knowledge.
Work Harder Than Your Competition
Let me present you with a simple scenario using the analogy of the sport of football. Let’s say that during high school and college you were a gifted athlete. Sure, you worked hard for your coaches who were likely tougher than nails. You were then drafted in the NFL and now you are a professional athlete, no longer an amateur. Now that you are a professional can you ease up? After all, you’ve made it! Right? Wrong!
As a professional, you should expect to work even harder. Welcome to the daily grind, but one that will truly distinguish you from the sense of entitlement often attributed to your generation. While there is nothing wrong with wanting what you want, remember that maintaining success is as great a challenge as achieving it.
Learn to Distinguish Between Illusion and Reality
Few professionals derive their livelihood entirely from relationships built across social media. However, the ability to determine which relationships are genuine and which exist entirely online can be crucial to one’s bottom line. Each and every genuine and authentic relationship that you create, work at, and grow becomes a resource for your business as are you a resource for them.
Though status updates, tweets, and blogs can be effective ways of gaining attention, they are no substitute for direct communication. Whatever platform you use, be it social media or simply meeting in person for a cup of coffee, it is the message that matters over medium. Real relationships of all types will produce real results in your career. Learn to separate the real from the unreal.
My advice for new graduates is the same as my advice for all professionals: Get along, work hard, and value sincerity. People do business with people they like but winning their business is of little value if you can’t maintain effective results. Doing so requires genuine professionalism and integrity. After all, what you’ve learned may get your foot in the door but it’s what you do with what you know that will help you stay there.
Mike Muhney is the co-inventor of ACT!, the software product credited as the catalyst of the entire Customer Relationship Management industry. Mike is also the CEO & co-founder of VIPorbit Software, creators of Vipor CRM apps for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. You can contact Mike online at www.viporbit.com.