14 ways to influence recent college graduates

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Opportunities to influence grads are everywhere, and it doesn’t always require that you to take center stage. Whether you prefer to offer motivational speeches on stage for big or small groups, collaborate with just a few, or offer single, one-on-one conversations, here are some of my favorite methods:

5 ways to influence grads in groups

#1: Mentor college grads while growing your business circle of influence. It is becoming common for college grads to graduate from “College Curriculum” to “Startup and Fundraising” boot camps. These camps, created by colleges and investors, are always looking for mentors willing to help or inspire attendees and contest winners (who typically have a high-volume of recent grads looking for capital funding).

As a mentor, you could influence or assist them with a variety of business-related topics, such as marketing, budgeting and cash flow, business modeling, product development, and more. During these camps, grads learn from mentors, as they flow through their journey from graduation to fundraising for their inspired dreams.

#2: Speak to high school seniors. A few years back, I went to my son’s high school. I went into the business office and volunteered to give a short presentation on “Opportunities in Accounting” to any interested math or business student. The school was suspicious at first, but appreciative after I explained that I wanted to practice my speaking skills and was not selling anything. They introduced me to the senior class as a guest speaker, which allowed me to interact with the students about the wide variety of accounting careers, not just limited to “tax preparer, auditor, and/or CFO.” The students were grateful and posed thought-provoking questions. Some even thanked me for helping them learn about careers that were invisible to their perception of math and economics.

#3: Collaborate with college recruiters and local workforce programs. Consider creating your own version of an “internship.” According to Wikipedia: “An internship is a period of work experience offered by an organization for a limited period of time. Internship is used for a wide range of placements in businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills and experience in a particular field.” 

Notice there is no mention of accreditation or minimum hours required. Consider this 15-minute brain challenge: If you had a room of 15 interns, what specific “skills” would you encourage them to practice for the next two to three months? What “hands-on” training would you be willing to provide to accelerate their future?

Creatively designed internships, left to your imagination, can be collaborated by you with, perhaps, the help of a college recruiter or workforce job certification – easily creating a win-win for everyone.

Reach out to your local workforce program directors/coordinators, and ask them what skills and training are missing for your profession. See if you can provide anything to contribute to the training and/or skills certifications, and maybe even find government funding programs in the workforce budget to support your efforts.

These are great ways to instantly establish yourself as an influencer in your industry, help people gain employment, and simultaneously grow your business.

#4: Set up team projects with senior staff. If you hire grads in multiple quantities, consider setting up team projects and/or case studies that include senior staff feedback and direction. These are highly influential, and can be competitive, motivational, and educational, all at the same time.

#5: Join a co-op space and/or incubator community. Co-op spaces with online communities seem to be the new “in” thing for creatives and recent grads. These are inspirational hotspots to relate to grads. Communicate the way they do, through Zoom, co-op spaces, and incubator communities. These spaces buzz wildly with highly energized, recent grads looking to build and expand their business network and acumen. Have you visited one or offered to lead an initiative lately?

9 ways to influence grads in one-on-one meetings

  1. Encourage grads to be creative and determined.
  2. Recommend (or gift) an influential book – my favorite book I frequently gift is “Rocket Fuel” by Gino Wickman.
  3. Recommend career advancing certifications, areas of specialty, and ways to exhibit one’s desired mission.
  4. Make and share a list of your favorite industry organizations, clubs, and magazines.
  5. Be a good listener. Listen to the grad’s hurdles and make recommendations for breakthroughs.
  6. Help a grad brainstorm on creative ways to impress, or break through to, a potential employer.
  7. Offer a personal letter of recommendation (if you can).
  8. Introduce a grad to other influential leaders.
  9. Help a grad write their resume.

You get what you give! If you are finding it challenging to find good people or want to revive your business with the energy of youth, expand your circle for more abundance, offer some wisdom, and connect to a college grad. You’ll be glad you did.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Firm of the Future.

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