It's not what you know, it's who you know...

"It's not what you know it's who you know" - a phrase you hear far too often particularly in the big wide world of work. Some may say it's true, others may not. I say it's a valuable source; but not explicitly; it needs to be supported with charisma and a good work ethic.

It is undoubtedly a good tool; one that recruiters find comfort in, to an extent. A recommendation from somebody trustworthy is always a promising one. However, it is not only these direct recommendations that lead to success but also the feedback and findings you experience along the journey that ultimately lead you to a greater chance of beginning your career.

As a new graduate in 2009, I was overwhelmed by the thought of leaving University and the education system and heading out into the "real" world. An apprehension I know nearly everyone experiences and after what feels like hundreds of years studying we are hardly to blame. Where do I start, what do I do, where do I go, and who do I talk to? Millions of questions running around inside my head; I could have taken the easy route - continuing the many jobs I had throughout my university course and hope to progress; or and the preferred route speak to everyone and anyone to see where this takes me.

You never know where talking to people gets you; friends, relatives, colleagues. Grasp every opportunity to talk to others; discuss their experiences and tell them your ambitions. Mine all started with a trip to Cyprus, the least place you would ever expect to find a valuable contact, but I did! On my return to England, off I went to London for a meeting to discuss where I want to be and what I want to achieve with a very successful and respectable CEO; a very daunting experience but one that if you do not grasp will pass you by.

As I sat in the waiting room trying to look intellectual with my head in The Financial Times, I ran through what I wanted to achieve from this meeting; you don't get anywhere without setting a goal - how can you achieve without having something to aim for? After a successful one hour meeting reviewing where I aspired to be, attributes I have and a necessary bit of internet research I was handed a business card for my next contact.

You will never appreciate how valuable a small piece of card can be until it gives you the motivation and support you need to do what you want and make dreams a reality. The feedback, criticism and constructive evaluation of my CV set me a task as well as providing me with the confidence I needed to believe in myself as a prized candidate to any potential employer.

This turntable of events including meetings and numerous email trains going backwards and forwards; enabled me to obtain my first job; something almost unachievable otherwise.

The moral of the story: follow up on every scrap of paper you are given, every business card you are handed and every name that is dropped. You never know what whirlwind it may take you on…
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