How To Build Your Professional Connections, One Stranger At A Time

We often have to deliver the bad news to you graduating seniors that hiring managers don’t want to hire you, that they want to hire someone with two years’ experience instead.

Here is the good news! The same individual (the one who didn’t want to hire you), even when you meet them in a chance encounter, even when you are not dressed for success when they meet you, could be the person who introduces you to the person who ends up hiring you.

In general, we are all very interested in helping recent graduates and young professionals who are just getting started. So, while we work with our clients to understand and leverage their professional connections, we also encourage them to seek out and take advantage of the often overlooked chance encounters.

Here are just a few examples from our young professional clients, who made professional connections from strangers – And got the job!

  1. A Professional Connection Made in A Taxi Cab.
    A young woman graduating with a degree in safety is sharing a cab back to the airport with someone after a conference that her professor gave her a pass to. He isn’t in her field but as a VP of operations he works with the Safety team in his company all the time.  He invites her to send him her resume; she sends her resume and a nice note to her new-best-cab-friend who took it into HR.  Someone from HR called her for an interview, and about 30 days later she started her new job.
  2. A Professional Connection Made By a Tailor.
    A young man soon to graduate with a mechanical engineering degree was being fitted for a new, get-a-job type suit.  He was chatting with the person doing the alterations about the type of work he was looking for and the tailor said, “My neighbor owns an engineering consulting firm and he is always looking for young engineers.  Call him at this number and tell him what you are looking for and that I told you to call”. He was offered a job the next week.
  3. A Professional Connection Made At a Wedding.
    A young film major was having trouble getting any traction in the marketplace and was reluctant to network saying, “it’s just not my style”.  He went to a family wedding determined to tell everyone what he was looking for.  The last person he spoke to was the groom, who he had never met before and after they chatted for a minute the groom said “you know my college roommate works at Pixar, would you like to talk with him”?  Geoffrey didn’t end up getting a job because of thiscall with the college roommate but he learned a lot about the industry which made him better prepared for future interviews, he got some great feedback on his resume and the process made him much more willing to talk with friends and strangers about the job he was looking for.  He is happily employed in his field today.

What do these examples have in common? That young job seekers, in addition to talking with their close network, also talked frequently talked to strangers – and in each of their situations, one of those conversations created the career break that they needed.

So here is today’s Tip – understand what you are looking for, practice saying it out loud, and seize the moment.  Seek out these conversations and be open to new contacts and support who can grow your professional connections.

Also read our blog on How to Leverage Industry Networking Events.

If you feel like you need more career support to get these types of conversations going,  contact us at for a free 30 minute career consultation.