Two men making local connections at a coffee shop.

Photo Credit: Pexels, Helena Lopes

Make Local Connections Before You Shoot for the Stars

“Connections are everything.” It’s a common phrase students hear in high school and college, and one frequently shared in the workforce. And it’s true—the network you cultivate will drastically impact your career. Because of these stakes, many seek to connect with the giants in their profession. But in doing so, they make a huge mistake—overlooking the value of local connections.

Why you should make local connections first

Industry giants are industry giants for a reason. So, just as you want to connect with them, so do hundreds, thousands, or even millions of others. Practically speaking, that connection won’t materialize for most. These giants only have 24 hours in a day, and their schedules tend to be far fuller than most. But that’s not the only reason people should invest in local connections.

Say you do get to connect with that person. Will you be able to add value to them? Will you be able to hold your own in business conversations? It’s something worth thinking about. After all, strong networks are built on different parties providing value to each other. You may know the value an industry giant can bring you, but why should they connect with you if you aren’t helping them too?

They shouldn’t. So, don’t start there. Until you continue ascending your field, you might not be able to benefit the King Kong of the arena. Which is okay! Giants are on a different level. But you can start ascending to that level by maximizing local connections.

If you’re a junior varsity football player, connect and grow with your local coaches and the varsity players before trying to hit up an NFL player for advice. Pre-law sophomore? Start with your upperclassmen and professors before emailing a partner at a top NYC law firm. If you’re early in your career, start with those at your organization and in your community—your church, your gym, etc.

Local connections are generally better positioned to help you grow where you’re at than people who aren’t in the area are. They can invest more time and resources. And they’ll often want to. Largely because they know you—they’re not a busy industry giant who might get annoyed by you.

When it comes to making connections, don’t overlook what’s readily available for something that may never be available. While the latter may look flashier, the former can be just as valuable, if not more so. Don’t deny yourself substance. Don’t miss out on the local connections that can expand your horizons.

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