Just like many young professionals, I struggled finding my niche in this competitive job market. To tell you the truth, I am still struggling. Some of us can’t afford to lose our permanent jobs in order to explore uncertain opportunities. This is where my saviour LinkedIn enters the screenplay.
LinkedIn is a platform that connects people without the awkward “let me attempt to network with you, but instead preach about how amazing I am” type of conversations. We get to see the person’s resume and interests before we even approach them.
I started to message inspirational professionals on LinkedIn, people with similar skillsets but different careers. I noticed that professionals who are willing to reply to messages on LinkedIn are usually genuine about wanting to help. I also noticed that conversations through LinkedIn, for the most part, are casual and honest because there is less at stake.
Why did I start messaging people on LinkedIn? Purely because I believe that you can learn more about yourself, by watching and listening to others. I started to go on coffee dates with one professional every two weeks. I picked these individuals based on the similarities we share, it ranged from similar skillset/education, to similar extracurricular activities and interests. I wanted to relate to the people I spoke to, not act as their clone.
It is important to keep in mind that being personable is a key asset when meeting people. Also, remember to never walk into a meeting expecting anything in return, such as, a reference or a job. These meetings are purely for you to learn and observe.
By speaking to these amazing professionals I learned the inside scoop about their careers, information that takes years of experience to acquire. Going for coffee gives you a relaxed atmosphere, where there is no seniority. It is just two people drinking coffee and sharing their experiences. You are not going to get this type of information on a career website or through interviews.
I quickly realized that finding a satisfying career is not always about the “work” itself. In order to be satisfied we need to consider, company culture, time commitment, room for growth, salary, distance of commute, extracurricular activities etc. These are a few of the topics you should be bringing up during your coffee dates.
What did I gain from this experience? I met a dozen professionals with unorthodox lives and I even got the opportunity to job shadow!
Now it’s you turn, message as many inspirational professionals on LinkedIn as you can, and hopefully a few will reply. You never know where one coffee can take you and I’m sorry if you don’t drink coffee.
Written By Santhiya Gunasekaran