by Trevor Sybertz
I was shy my entire life. I was afraid to talk to people, especially those I didn’t know. The thought of making a new friend or even attempting to have a conversation with a stranger made me anxious. I knew that getting out of my comfort zone and learning how to communicate with the right people would be the only way to reach my life goals. So when I college junior, I decided to figure out a way to form relationships on my terms.
That’s when I began researching how to connect with, influence, and build relationships with people.
I remember reading Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell. The way he defined the term, “connection,” struck a nerve with me. As he put it, the art of connection is “the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”
A month later, I was reading The Harvard Business Review for a class assignment. I was surprised to learn that “connecting with people” is the number-one skill for advancement and promotion of professionals.
Once I convinced myself about the impact that developing relationships would have on my career, I read everything I could get my hands on about how to make it happen. Before long, I created my own blueprint on how to build a world-class network of connections with powerful people that could help me reach my dream of working on Wall Street.
Then during my senior year of college, I put this blueprint for building relationships to the test. I began with alumni from my university who were working in the financial industry. But I didn’t stop there. Each relationship that I made with an alum led me to an introduction to another person in their network who could help me. That then led to another introduction. Then another.
Before I knew it, I had developed inside ties to some of the top companies that I had interest in working at. I had built a world-class network ranging from young analysts all the way to CEOs of Wall Street high-caliber firms. Although I was still in college, I had surprised even myself when realizing that I had acquired the network of seasoned veterans in the financial industry—and it all started because of the initial connections that I had made with my alumni network.
With those relationships in place, I was able to leverage myself into interviews at companies that I never could have gotten into had I relied only on my résumé. And because of those relationships with the right people, I was able to unlock the doors to the companies where I wanted to interview and ultimately work.
Let me be clear: These relationships were not the typical shallow LinkedIn connection requests that we all get from strangers on a day-to-day basis. Instead, these were people who had gotten to know me, liked me, and wanted to help me reach my career potential. Devoting my senior year of college to building that world-class network is what allowed me to create exponential value out of the most expensive investment of my life: my university degree.
By the time I graduated, I had my dream job offer in hand at a Wall Street investment banking firm in New York City where I spent the first three years of my career working alongside some of the best and brightest minds in the financial industry. I even became one of the youngest Assistant Vice Presidents in the company by the age of twenty-four. And by 25, I used that same networking blueprint to move across the country and achieve my next dream: working for a venture backed real estate investment company with over $2 billion in transaction volume on the west coast.
While it may sound like I am bragging, that is certainly not the goal. I am sharing this accomplishment to prove how much anyone can grow, transform, and fulfill their own career potential by learning how to build relationships with the right people. At the end of the day, winning my dream job wasn’t what I considered my greatest feat. What was more gratifying for me was the person I became as a result of reaching that goal:
I went from being shy to becoming confident.
I went from feeling average to believing that I could be great.
I overcame my fear of failure, I discovered new strengths, and I fulfilled my potential.
Trevor Sybertz is a 29-year-old financial professional, author, speaker, coach, and trainer. His passion is to help professionals create fulfilling careers and build relationships to multiply their success. His book, The Master Superconnector will be released in 2021.