6 Ways To Get Ahead When You Don’t Have Connections

from Fast Company

Impact investor Nathalie Molina Niño gets a lot of emails from people looking to connect, and for good reason. After dropping out of college at 20 to run a startup, the former engineer spent several decades as both an intrapreneur (advising corporate giants like Microsoft and Disney) and entrepreneur (most recently as founder and CEO of BRAVA Investments, which backs high-growth businesses benefiting women). Her Rolodex spans not only business and technology but also politics, entertainment, and activism. Networking guru and Never Eat Aloneauthor Keith Ferrazzi called her a “super-connector.”

Still, the challenge of cultivating professional connections isn’t lost on Molina Niño. She grew up in Los Angeles far more exposed to the garment industry her immigrant parents worked in than to venture capital. Her experience outsmarting the status quo and seeing other entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds do the same inspired her new book, Leapfrog. In it, she shares 50 hacks crowdsourced from leaders in her network to help others without pre-existing cultural and financial capital reach their business goals.

While she knows getting your foot in the door can be daunting, she is equally adamant that, with the right ingenuity, anyone can cultivate the connections and capital it takes to succeed. Looking to break in? Here’s where to start.

More here.


55 Responses to 6 Ways To Get Ahead When You Don’t Have Connections

  1. Deep Patel February 21, 2019 at 11:27 pm #

    Every professor in the Stillman Business School at Seton Hall always talk about the importance of networking and connections to build your career. Katie Sanders talked about ways to be successful without any connections. Getting good connections as a college student is tough and I have experienced that myself. It is still possible to get a good internship or job without a good connection however it becomes a lot more difficult. The statement that Mrs. Sanders made about how important it is to invite professionals to a networking lunch is critical in every business field. As a student, I can relate when the author said expending your energy in the right places. When I am searching for internships, I make sure I apply to jobs that have campus recruiting or have a lot of alumni working for them. The chances of landing an interview are higher if the company knows my university and have seen students like me in their company. Therefore, I am always making sure that I use my time and energy and put it in the right place instead of looking for jobs that are out of my reach.
    In addition, the point that really touched me was starting each approach fresh. As aspiring students we tend to be a little impatient with recruiters within an organization. They are constantly busy with emails and phone calls from many different people. In my business writing class, I have seen many emails where students have made errors and shown impatience. I saw students emailing two times in a couple hours because the recruiter did not reply back. It is important not to call out what they have done for you, or how long it has been since the last unsuccessful message. It is important to make them feel good not to make them feel guilty. It is critical to keep emails simple and straight to the point. The receiver does not have time to read through paragraphs of writing. I have learned not to say things such as “I emailed you a couple times, but I have not received an email back.” Therefore, it is easy to get impatient with professionals who take a while to respond but as students we have to patient and wait for our opportunity.
    This article is for people who want to increase there networking and communication skills to professionals. The key is to connect to people who match up with your specific goals and interests. It can be either by getting an invite to a conference or sending an email to create a relationship. Also, it does not matter if you are asking for ten minutes or an hour. No one will get time with the person they want to talk to if they keep on the track of a need to know basis. Just go straight to what you need, do not go around and wasting time asking pointless questions. Lastly, it is vital to nail your story, make sure you practice it and are confident in presenting it. The goal is to be compelling and the person will want to support your story however they can. Connections can be hard, but using these steps will help anyone in achieving there goals and aspirations.

  2. Claudia Ralph March 1, 2019 at 11:02 am #

    In today’s professional environment, connections and networking have become more important than ever. “It’s all about who you know,” is a saying I’ve heard everywhere from the classroom to the highest level of the workplace. But what about when you don’t know anyone? I was originally drawn to this article because in many situations, I don’t know anyone in a professional setting that can get me ahead. Getting good connections when you are not well-connected has proven itself to be a harder task than I originally anticipated. People will get positions because they know X person in the organization and their resume will be at the top of the stack. I have learned how to exploit opportunities for myself. It’s how I’ve gotten internships and jobs in the past. The best way I have found to get in touch with professionals is something that Sanders touches on in this article; be direct and upfront with what your intentions are with the person. Professionals know that college students probably aren’t just hitting them up to talk about the weather, they know we want internships or some sort of shadowing experience and it is important that it be communicated as such.
    The next thing that Sanders talked about that can be applicable to college students looking to network is to start each interaction as a new experience. Don’t carry over discouraging experiences into other interactions because that will knock your confidence. Not all people are the same and not all professionals have the time or resources to give people internships or other professional advice. Great example is that my dad works in a smaller law firm and they don’t take interns. My dad is happy to give my friends professional advice or to get them connected with other firms or offices that may fit what they are looking for in terms of professional experience. Not giving them an internship doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to help them, he just does not need an intern.
    One last thing that I have done for myself in terms of exploiting opportunities is just browsing around LinkedIn. Always look to see if companies have Seton Hall connections or alumni because those people will always want to hire you. I usually drop a LinkedIn message to a Seton Hall alum if it is connected to an internship or opportunity I am interested in. Little things like that can get you in the door with a mutual connection.

  3. Shegufta Tasneem April 15, 2019 at 8:39 pm #

    This article serves as a great benefit to college students looking for an opportunity to start a career path that they want to. There are some great points mentioned in this article that makes the readers want to read the book written by Molino Nino. One of the most interesting points of this article is how investors take interest in authentic and well developed stories. Presentation of oneself and one’s ideas is one of the most significant parts of pitching for yourself. It shows what exactly the person wants to focus on and brings the main points to the table. This brings us to another topic that the article covers which is stating your intention upfront. This is a crucial point to remember for anyone trying to sell their idea to an investor because successful entrepreneurs and corporate officials do not have the time to listen to a long and spread out a lecture by a start-up business person. So, it is more important to get to the topic straight and talk more about why his or her business is worth investing in. the last important point that the article covers is to “nail your story.” It is important for a business person to know who they are dealing with, research in advance where they are going and how the environment is at that place. If an investor is from a corporate giant, their expectations from the entrepreneur would be definitely a lot different from that by a small corporation that has their own problems they struggle with and would only consider highly lucrative deals and business ideas to invest in. so, it is the responsibility of the person trying to connect and pitch their idea to investors. Over all, the points presented in this article serve as another reminder of the lessons we learn from the networking events that take place in Seton Hall. Preparation for the career fairs and discussion panels with influential corporate officials are some great places to start this experience for college students.

  4. Kevin Metz May 3, 2019 at 7:34 pm #

    When it comes to getting a job, it seems as though it’s easier to get by when you have some sort of connection to employers. This article suggests various ways to make the right connections with the right people such as devoting your energy to the right places and making your intentions clear. Essentially, individuals have to learn how to fend for themselves in a world of increasing competition. When it comes to making connections with employers, this must be done in a very specific and thought-out way. Personally, I see the value in making connections and understand how this can make or break someone’s given opportunities. In a world full of competition, the only true way to get ahead is to network with others. Confidence is a huge part of how someone is able to make these connections. You have to keep matters straight and to the point. Connections people make are their way of advancing in the work force. Although this may seem selfish, people have to worry more so about themselves than others. Establishing connections is basically like asking others for their support. You have to act confidently and concisely. Certain opportunities only come around once which is why being ahead is so helpful. Most opportunities present themselves on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you don’t act quickly and efficiently, you may lose out on an amazing opportunity in the long-run. I think making connections is crucial to any field. However, this must be done appropriately. Looking back on high school, the teachers’ “pets” were always viewed more so as annoying. Similar to connecting with certain employers and their staff, it is important to demonstrate a proper balance when attempting to make connections. One must know how to sell him or herself, but in a way that is compelling to others. You need to know how to make others understand why you deserve certain things instead of people feeling pitiful toward you. Connections must be meaningful and in order to have such connections, people must make their plan of action clear-cut.

  5. Trinity Holland October 25, 2019 at 10:43 am #

    I find this article to be interesting and extremely helpful considering the fact that it’s coming from the perspective of a well-established investor. Especially because Nathalie Molina Niño came from a completely different background and worked her way to the top, I believe she has a very unique point of view. Many people, college students in particular, are constantly in pursuit of building connections. We’ve all heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and many find that saying to be true. This article provides real insight into how people and students can increase their chances of building those connections.

    One of the tips Niño mentioned that found to be both relevant and surprising is the fact that investors want you to get straight to the point. I think one of the most worrisome aspects of making a connection is being afraid of being “too straightforward”. I think there is a common misconception that if you directly ask for what you want, a person is more inclined to say no. In the same sense, when asking someone for a favor, we usually find ways to “beat around the bush,” rather than just come straight out and ask. I find it refreshing to know that most investors would rather you just come out and explain what it is you need and are asking for. Moreover, I agree with the notion that “energy is a form of currency”. Often times we use our energy in the wrong places and should focus more on spending our energy in ways and places that will further our goal.

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