I was asked this question by a connection on LinkedIn:
What do I have to offer? I am fresh out of Penn State and am fresh into the business world… I need more advice than I can supply!
How do I make myself more interesting and beneficial to others to generate business conversation???
What an exciting time for you! And good for you for seeking out the advice of others to further your career. What I’m about to write is a small list of things I wish I’d done back in the day when I graduated from college and started my first business. Call it my “If I knew then what I know now” list.
1. If you want to be beneficial to others, but you don’t have advice to give, learn to connect people to other people. Don’t worry about giving advice based on your own experience. Instead, get to know LOTS of people and connect people together. (LinkedIn can really help you do this). If you’re going to take people out to lunch, take two people out to lunch and introduce them. Don’t bother having advice-oriented discussions just yet. Rather, prepare conversation starters to get things going.
If you need to make sales for your job (and assuming you have some leeway in how you do it), look into putting together seminars or workshops. Again, you don’t have to be the one at the front giving advice. Host them but have someone else (with experience) lead them.
2. Figure out your “angle” in business and focus on it. (For example, are you “THE Marketing Girl” or a social media expert or whatever). Create a position of expertise and target it on and off the web relentlessly. It’s tough to do it that early in your career but it’s well worth the effort if you can do it. If you have a bit of money and time to invest, read about personal branding.
3. Start a blog. Keep it professional but mix in some personal stuff too (but not too personal). You may not use it now for your career but it will slowly build a body of thought-leadership work that you can rely on in the future if you ever move.
4. Lastly, don’t ever apologize for having no experience. Turn it around and make it a benefit in your conversations: A lack of experience means you don’t have to color inside the lines the way experienced people tend to do.
Good luck in your career!