It has been a couple months since I wrote a “Career Coach” column. Sometimes they write themselves. Today was such a day as I had a wonderful lunch with a very cool college student. He’s in his Junior year and majoring in business. He is also thinking about starting a company – or at least taking a swing at the ball. This is of great interest to my entrepreneurial side, of course.
Anyway, he’s focused on planning the course load so he can graduate on time. At the same time he has been quietly developing a product idea born of his personal interest and a wide view of the people around him who would use the product. He knows he needs a business plan and wants to know what to do, when to do it, who to include in the venture – these are all the right questions.
He seems somewhat intimidated and confesses to not knowing exactly where to start. I explained that simply admitting that there are a ton of questions to be asked means his self-awareness is well-calibrated. None of us are born with all the answers – we all assimilated it from mentors, professors and individual study. Armed with that, we then march forth into the world and take a swing at some noble new business goal. I provided him with the Guy Kawasaki 10-20-30 business plan format and he took copious notes and asked many clarifying questions. I then sent him to a couple websites that would assist him in learning the process.
We also discussed social media and the need for personal reputation management. Like many students, he has a Facebook presence and uses Twitter as a mass texting resource to openly communicate aomong his circle of friends. Uh, sometimes too open. He was keenly aware of the need to moderate his tweets and posts as he looks forward to graduation in two years. This led to a very interesting conversation about social media from MY perspective.
We arrived at a discussion about a WordPress account where he could blog his thoughts about the process of starting his business and other things. That led to a discussion about LinkedIn and its function in the professional world as well as how Twitter plays a part in the tapestry of social communications.
By the end of the conversation he had two sets of notes:
1) Drafting the Business Plan for his product idea
2) Begin establishing his professional reputation today through a WordPress blog that automatically posts updates to Twittter and LinkedIn. Meanwhile his more personal life will be maintained on Facebook and he is going to clean up the archive.
What impressed me most was his strong desire to think ahead. He has two years of college in front of him and knows that is his priority. Along the way, he wants to “scratch the itch” and see if his product idea can come to life while using social media to establish what will eventually be his online professional reputation. As part of this he sought me out for advice and counsel. To him, his career is starting with the kickoff of his Junior year.
It shows me just how important it is to make time for the quality people who want to tap into our collective experiences. Frankly, as it turned out I didn’t have a lot of time today but it was a great conversation. I can’t wait for the next lunch with him.