Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Business

Graduates should combine networking with true passions

In the boardroom of large public companies, where few women sit at the table, there's a dysfunctional dynamic going on. The female directors say they are left out of strategic decision-making because those conversations often happen on the golf course and they don't play golf.

After learning about this in the Harvard Business Review, I brought it up with a female CEO who wishes she had mastered golf and said she would advise new college graduates to learn the sport. I wonder, though, will professional networking and back-door decision-making in the future even be done on the greens? Or will it be done some other place entirely that requires a different skill?

With work/life balance an increasing concern, how should today's college graduates optimize their free time now to build the right networks, learn the right skills and lay the foundation to become successful leaders in the future?

Advice from high-level professionals varies greatly, and there's acknowledgement that today's formula might not be the recipe for tomorrow.

Most of today's board members and CEOs began their careers when email and social networks didn't exist. This 2013 crop of college graduates, an estimated 1.8 million people, enters the workforce with highly developed digital skills and multitasking abilities, along with an expectation of work/life balance. And even with the hiring outlook still bleak, many prioritize the nature of the work over compensation when considering a job, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

One professional advises college graduates to master multiple languages and leave the country rather than spend that time learning to golf.

"Your 20s is the ideal time to raise your hand to take on a project in Portugal or enroll in a business program in Spain," said Bonnie Crabtree, senior client partner and office managing director of Korn/Ferry International's Miami office. Contacts in other parts of the world and a different perspective can become valuable in your later career, she said.

Crabtree said her executive-recruiting company recently researched the backgrounds of board members at the nation's top public companies. "International experience really shows up in statistics."

Sometimes knowing what you want to accomplish can shape your early career strategy. J. Preston Jones, interim dean of the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University, often networks on the golf course, playing alongside university presidents, community leaders and fundraisers. He advises graduates to identify the ultimate job they want and study where and how those who now hold those positions built strategic relationships.

"If the decision-makers are playing golf or fishing or climbing the Himalayas, those are activities you should consider adding to your repertoire of things you become passionate about." Doing activities you enjoy outside the workplace with other professionals makes business fun, he said. "You are not only bonding but welding relationships."

Using your 20s to position yourself as a leader can also pay off. Community, charity and political organizations are the lunch clubs and golf courses of tomorrow. Getting involved in the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a professional association or an alumni group can put a college graduate or new associate in front of judges, senior vice presidents and business owners.

"You can't just be a member. You have to chair a committee or run events. You want others to see you as a leader," said Jill Granat, senior vice president/general counsel of Burger King Corp. and president of the Burger King McLamore Foundation. But she cautions that you need to choose an organization you are passionate about or you will come off as superficial. "Don't do something you don't like."

Granat also advises positioning yourself as a leader inside your company, too, by showing you are flexible and seizing opportunities. "You need to be willing to make your mark where the company needs you. You might want to do X, but if you are willing to do Y, you will get a foot in the door."

Of course, today's college graduates feel more comfortable than prior generations building connections online. Building and maintaining social networks are worth the time investment. But that is only one step of the process, said Mary Leslie Smith, a partner in the Miami office of Foley & Lardner and the newly installed president of the Dade County Bar Association. Be bold and invite people to enjoy experiences with you, she said.

"I just went with a client to a Madonna concert and now we have that experience that we enjoyed together. You can't get that by connecting on Linked In," Smith said, adding that building a vibrant network in your early career includes forging relationships at all levels. "Ten years from now, that associate next may be a general counsel who becomes a client. The more friendships, the more relationships you build, the better."

Smith also believes one of the best time investments a young professional can make is financial education, particularly for those without business degrees. "Learn to read a financial statement, the key terms in the stock market, how to read a prospectus. It will pay off for you."

It may seem overwhelming, but start now building a community invested in your success — mentors, sponsors or supporters. Jennifer Moline, senior vice president of finance and accounting at Terremark Worldwide, says it takes courage and a time investment to ask for advice and listen well, which becomes increasingly challenging later in your career. She suggests making a list of everyone you know and ask them to introduce you to successful people who have careers that you are interested in. An introduction by someone who knows you is most effective. "Don't ask for a job, ask for advice." Throughout your career, keep your network of supporters informed of your progress, which can be done on social networks, she said.

With this advice in mind, I wanted to dig deeper with Boris Groysberg, a Harvard Business School professor and author of the Harvard Business Review article on women in the boardroom. Groysberg said while golf has proved key in board culture today, even he is not convinced it will pay off when college graduates are leaders.

"Having cutting-edge skills is what's going to be most important," he said. To get those skills, he advises young people to scout for companies that will develop them by moving them around within the organization. In addition, he advises them to determine their strengths and then cultivate them. Though the likelihood of reaching the top is small, he said, that's not necessarily a bad thing. "If you combine what you're passionate about with your strengths, it can be a satisfying journey."

Comments
Clearwater looks to move out of City Hall to speed up Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment

Clearwater looks to move out of City Hall to speed up Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment

CLEARWATER — Elected officials have talked about relocating City Hall from the downtown bluff for a good 30 years. Now there’s a jolt of urgency to actually do it.Voters backed a referendum in November that essentially greenlighted the $55 million re...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Shrinking supply of Tampa Bay condos and townhomes drives up prices

Shrinking supply of Tampa Bay condos and townhomes drives up prices

Sales of condos and townhomes in the Tampa Bay area jumped 9.5 percent in March, hitting a median of $156,000. The price gain was prompted in part by a supply shortage, with sales down 7.5 percent amid a dwindling inventory. Statewide, sales also lag...
Published: 04/25/18
Against neighborhood and city staff wishes, Clearwater Council greenlights storage facility

Against neighborhood and city staff wishes, Clearwater Council greenlights storage facility

CLEARWATER — Skycrest residents showed up to City Hall recently and begged elected officials not to let a developer knock down an aging office building in their neighborhood and build a storage facility in its place.Planning and Development Director ...
Published: 04/25/18
Three artists picked to create art for St. Pete’s new pier

Three artists picked to create art for St. Pete’s new pier

ST. PETERSBURG — Pelicans will return to the pier in fanciful form.A California artist has been selected to create an enormous, red origami sculpture of a pelican that will serve as a metal perch for three more lifelike, but no less fanciful, imitati...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Career Q&A: Disillusioned with grind of telecommute

Career Q&A: Disillusioned with grind of telecommute

Q: I have become very disillusioned with my telecommuting job. I accepted this position about a year ago because I liked the idea of working from home. However, I now have so many assignments that I can barely keep up. I was recently given a huge pro...
Published: 04/24/18
Pinellas County commits $41.7 million to Blue Jays Stadium

Pinellas County commits $41.7 million to Blue Jays Stadium

DUNEDIN — The Pinellas County Commission pulled the final trigger Tuesday on dedicating $41.7 million in bed taxes for upgrades to the Toronto Blue Jays’ stadium and spring training facilities, a pledge that amounts to covering more than half of the ...
Published: 04/24/18
Florida’s small businesses need more skilled workers, survey says

Florida’s small businesses need more skilled workers, survey says

Florida small business owners say their top concern is a lack of skilled workers, according to a recent survey by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Workforce quality has been a recurring issue for small businesses, according to previous surveys. In th...
Published: 04/24/18
Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

TAMPA — The world’s biggest hotel company already has 29 properties in the Tampa Bay area, but its CEO says a plan to put more than 1,400 rooms in three Marriott-branded hotels within a few blocks of each other says something about how Tampa is evolv...
Published: 04/24/18
Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

If you’ve ever complained about other motorists on the road, you may have been justified. The Sunshine State ranked No. 8 on GasBuddy.com’s list of states with the most aggressive drivers."Our findings indicate that states with densely populated citi...
Published: 04/24/18
First curbside delivery, now Amazon leaves packages with no one in the car

First curbside delivery, now Amazon leaves packages with no one in the car

Amazon is taking the growing curb-side delivery trend a step further — now shoppers don’t even have to be inside their cars to get their items.The online retailer announced Tuesday it has begun delivering packages to newer cars with OnStar service in...
Published: 04/24/18