The connection revolution has changed the world. It allows us opportunities that didn’t exist before. You can reach people with similar interests and gain more knowledge within a niche than you can with a formal education.
Connect with others to build your future.
With your mind on a hobby, practice or interest, find a mentor . . . someone who is also interested in the same thing but knows more than you. This might be a teacher, coach, doctor, family friend or any other person who has knowledge and skills you would like to acquire. Do not expect them to drop everything to train you. This is a relationship like any other. What can you give them in return for them helping you?
NOTE: When working at a local print company, I frequently worked with a local graphic artist on his personal projects. As he realized I was taking the things he taught me and applied them on later jobs, he was happy to teach me more because in the end, it saved him time not having to stand over my shoulder and dictate every little thing. Today, it is because of him that I am a graphic designer as well.
You will learn more failing at a business than getting a college degree. Everyone doesn’t have the entrepreneur temperament. Only about 20% of Americans own their own businesses. Two-thirds of US millionaires are entrepreneurs. Today, the easiest way to become an entrepreneur is online. If you want to go for the money, this is the best way to do it. Examine entrepreneurship and try starting a small business.
NOTE: Be sure to check out sites such as Etsy, Creative Market and Shopify. These are options to sell goods, whether handmade or purchased, as a way to create your own business.
You can create your own personal brand with a hobby or passion. You can also build a brand for a product or service you provide. Even if you don’t build a business, branding yourself will help others recognize you as an expert. This can lead you to writing, teaching courses online, etc. Check out how others have built brands.
You can find out if your idea or project is possible by getting it funded by others. By putting it up on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo or another fundraising site, you can measure the interest in your project. Be sure to read what they find an acceptable project before putting it up! If it can generate enough attention to get money before you do it, there is a greater possibility that it will succeed. Follow a couple campaigns and see how this is done.
5. Create art.
Build traction by creating your art and building an audience. You don’t need to make a million dollars off your first album. If you can live on $20,000 a year, determine the sales needed to hit that goal and go for it. By creating your art, you are also helping to build your brand. If you are interested in artistic pursuits, find at least two people doing similar things to what you would like to do. See what social media sites they use and how they spread their art with their audience.
6. Online portfolio.
Creating an online portfolio highlights your abilities. You can showcase your knowledge and skills. In addition, doing the work to create an online portfolio will help you gain computer and design skills through trial and error. Look into creating your own online portfolio.
It’s who you know. This might be your mentor or your peer community. Most people find jobs through their network. Likeability is the number one reason people get hired. Work to cultivate your positive, helpful and friendly persona. Look at your current social media ventures and start to network within them.
8. Volunteer / service.
Many graduates volunteer to gain experience that they didn’t get in college. Start volunteering now. There are websites that provide you information on needed volunteers. Be sure to volunteer for the skills you have, want to improve or need to get. Look at how to match volunteer opportunities with your needs.
NOTE: Like education, you need to track your volunteer / service efforts. This will be extremely helpful if you are looking for scholarships while applying to colleges. Include the date, activity (what you did), organization, where you did the service and hours. If applicable, get a signed letter or note from the person in charge or organization as additional proof.
9. Social media.
Yes, connecting with people online is a fantastic way to build a peer community, support your personal branding and more. Just like anything else you do, doing it the wrong way can jeopardize your goals. Before posting anything, I always wait 24 hours. This gives me time to clear any negative emotions. I also get a new look at what I’m about to post and often will see grammatical errors or awkward turns of phrase. Always ask yourself . . . is this how I want to be perceived?
Some days, it’s hard to push forward. Support systems are vital during those times when you’re asking yourself “why” or allowing that voice in your head to convince you that you’re “just not good enough.” A peer community, mastermind group or even supportive family will help you get through the tough times we all suffer through. Find a group or individuals who you can connect with to help support you in your educational and career efforts.
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