As someone who had very few personal contacts through family or friends I would like to take the time to assure anyone who is worried that there are other routes to take. If its not fears over lack of contacts but worries over what school grades you have, I would like to draw your attention to a completely other means of gaining the attentions of those companies you dream of noticing you.
In February 2016 I was in the miserable cycle of rejection after rejection. HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Lloyd's of London, Nomura, Johannesburg Stock Exchange, London School of Economics, JP Morgan, Blackberry, EE, Three, Vodafone and many more were on the list of companies that had turned me down. I have no family in any kind of banking and, these rejections often made me doubt as to whether it would be possible to reach my future ambitions.
Although disheartening, this engrained in me a strong ambition to find the people who were in the jobs that I wanted. I decided that I was sick and tired of being rejected and I wanted to prove that the old saying 'it's who you know, not what you know' could be wrong. This was a crucial testing point – I had to decide whether I would give up entirely or push through adversity. I chose the latter.
I have had LinkedIn since I was 16 but I never really used it. This I changed. I made the decision to add everyone I knew using the app. I added all my friends and family, and then I looked up my friends' family and my family's friends to expand my network even more. I then made myself a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound) target: to message 30 people a week. Whether I knew them or not didn't matter just as long as I was learning and improving. After a few replies and some great conversations, I expanded my theory.
No longer did I limit myself to the realms of LinkedIn but took the bold step to take my theory to the bus, train, tube, anywhere I could. It was as simple as making friendly conversation to as many people as I could and eventually, at the end of the journey, asked if they'd like to stay in touch. As there always is, there were many rejections but the saying that 'you have to roll with the punches' couldn't be more correct. So much was the success of my new approach, I was able to obtain 5 out of my 6 placements this summer from networking. These included Credit Suisse, JP Morgan and Lloyd's of London, companies that had previously rejected me. Of course, it was a fantastic moment for me to realise that all my rejection, public embarrassment and subsequent determination had proved worth it. We all get upset and even angry when we fail or receive bad news. In the true words of Frank Sinatra, 'The best form of revenge is success' and there is no better feeling than getting what you truly want and deserve as well as showing everyone around you just how far you're willing and able to go.
Networking is a skill that is constantly evolving and I am still learning to try and master it. Please feel free to add me on LinkedIn: Michael Truckle.