In the summer of 1996 after my sophomore year of college, I started an internship at a nonprofit technology association in downtown Washington, D.C.
Doors open based on who you know
In the late 90s, these were physical doors rather than virtual ones, but the concept is the same. When applying for a job or looking to connect with someone, name-dropping would increase your odds of getting a positive response. Today, although we have exponentially larger networks thanks to social media, deep, in-person relationships still provide the greatest networking benefit.
As you build your network of contacts, remember to follow up
Meeting a contact once is a wasted opportunity unless you periodically remind him or her of who you are and take steps to grow the relationship over time. In the 90s, I was encouraged to send snail mail holiday cards to former bosses and colleagues, and even to pick up the phone occasionally. Twenty years later, it’s all about LinkedIn.
In a new situation, aim to assimilate
Corporate culture used to be “one-size-fits-all.” If you worked in a business office in any city in the world, you were expected to behave professionally, adhere to hierarchies, and generally do what you were told without making waves. Individual company cultures may be more unique today (conservative versus liberal, strict versus playful) but the need to examine and then fit into a new culture – whatever it may be – remains.
For the rest of the piece, head over to my new Mashable column.