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The 5 Finds To Remember For Gaining Access To The Right Opportunities

Image: Tim Robberts

As a member of Corporate America, it’s safe to say I have had mental lapses where I have left my work badge on my dresser. The work badge that allows me to enter into the building and also gives me access to my designated floor. The badge includes my name, unique identifier, and a magnetic strip that is used to activate the card once it is swiped. Sure, there are different barriers of entry such as turnstiles card/badge collector, half height turnstile, tripod turnstile, or even the full freight turnstile. Regardless of form, access is often needed for admittance to the other side of a barrier.

Access typically comes in many shapes or forms in life. As previously stated, a badge is needed to get into the building at work. A passport is needed to enter another country. You even need a Costco card to stock up on that 100 oz. ketchup that you need in your life. In sports, a ticket is your access to the event. To see that new movie, you will also need a ticket to gain access. A password is needed to login to just about everything these days. The list could literally go on forever. Simply said, access is everything. 

Going about getting access to an event is typically easy. Websites like StubHub, Eventbrite, Shopify, or LiveNation allow you to purchase your access to your preference of entertainment. But what about getting access to something as invaluable as knowledge or the hiring manager to your dream job?  

The coming of age is saying, “if I knew back then what I know now" led me to ponder how one should go about learning how to get access to the right people. Yes, there is usually 6 degrees of separation, the idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other, but how do you use that to your advantage? 

For example, you may be able to find someone from your third grade science project on volcanoes who has an uncle that was a personal driver for Michael Jordan when he played for the Chicago Bulls and may be able to get you a job at Nike, but those chances are slim to none. However, the chances are likely that you have crossed paths with someone that may be able to help gain access to a new career, endeavor, partnership, etc. Access to a bigger platform, access to movers and shakers.

How do you go about gaining access?

Are you trying to transition to a new career that is an industry in which you lack experience? Are you trying to cold call, cold email, or cold LinkedIn invitation your way to the right person? There is no exact formula or template on how to gain access to the right people. Instead of focusing on getting the right access, focus on building relationships. People are often willing to help others they know or share a common interest with, it just makes sense. Sure people may respond to a cold email, but are going to be more prone to help if someone you have already built a relationship with sends an introductory email.

People are often willing to help others they know or share a common interest with, it just makes sense.

For former athletes you have to realize you have a huge network to rely on that may be able to get the access you need. Coaches, teammates, opponents, faculty members and alumni are all groups that you share a common interest with. Sure years may have passed since you last communicated, but it never hurts to strike up a conversation to get the ball rolling again.

Relationships are essential to gaining access. Below are my “5 Finds for Building Relationships” on how to build healthy relationships where both parties win.

1. Find your friend - Review your list of contacts in your phone. Check your followers on Instagram/Twitter, connections on LinkedIn, connections on Athlete Network (they will also facilitate those connections with companies), and even alumni networks if available.

2. Find a commonality - Recall an experience or activity you shared.

3. Find a gap - Identify a gap or area that can be improved. A gap can also be your interest (it’s essentially why you are connecting or reconnecting).

4. Find your why - People often tell others what they are trying to do, but rarely mention why they are trying to do it. Curtail your “why” to each scenario to give context.

5. Find your value – Specify how you will add value to the relationship. The ability to add value or bring something to the table will ensure that the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Remember, access is more than a means of approaching or entering a place. It’s about building a connection that can help you in this thing called life. Access granted.

Layden Williams is a former collegiate basketball player at Catawba College. After his playing days were over, Layden earned his MBA and currently resides in Charlotte, NC where he is an up-and-coming author and compliance professional in the banking industry. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram.