Updated: Nov 28, 2020
Hello! My name is Xiner Chen (commonly known as Nicole), and I am an incoming AEO student at Western University. As an entrepreneurial student leader, I am passionate about inspiring people through my voice and experience. In the past few months, I have the pleasure to work on professional industry case studies while learning about the world of consulting with Illuminate College and their National Partners. Here is an article I wrote in hopes of sharing my insights with the community and starting the conversation about breaking the career-seeking barrier for students.
This is how my first business teacher defines an entrepreneurial individual.
During the three years, I tried to get my feet wet in Business, I found that RIGHT resources are essential to success in every aspect -- which is defined as, resources of high quality and a good match for your needs (suitability). Startup success relies on the right team, career advancement on the right connections, successful collaborations on the right partners... Right resources, in some way, make your successes.
Now you might ask: so where, and how, do I find resources that are right for me?
Be resourceful. The answer is the same as the first line.
For those who are unfamiliar with the phrase, “be resourceful” means:
Keeping plenty of resources like cracker boxes on the supermarket shelf.
You can pick and choose -- and you will always find the one that’s right.
But we all knew it’s important to be resourceful!
Right. So the secret actually lies in how to be resourceful:
Instead of collecting thousands of cracker brands for your own shelf, you shall find a resourceful supermarket.
This is the heart of our key concept today:
Find Quality in Quantities.
Note: “Quality” refers to the desired outcome; “quantities” refers to groups,
communities, or networks.
I want to highlight that when your desired outcome is to find the right resources (“quality”) while having your options open, it’s smart to allow groups, communities, or networks you take part in (“quantities”) -- which are generally resourceful -- to do the job sometimes. As the saying goes, “(Joining a community) opens up a world of opportunities”. That is what we are talking about.
It may sound way simpler than what you expect to learn and practice, but haven’t we all made fruitless mistakes such as adding 50 busy LinkedIn strangers who never respond to coffee chat requests, or having 9/10 of cold callings ended up as front-desk conversations? Some may say these mistakes are the “necessary part” of your career -- it is true as it builds up interpersonal skills for your pursuit. However, in terms of being efficient and productive in the professional development journey, it is better to minimize the fruitless effort. Following the "Quality in Quantities" concept, if your recipient is in a common group with you -- with proximity reduced, empathy provoked in people who are usually down to help -- you are more likely to succeed.
A simple philosophy can impact your professional journey in greater ways.
What matters for you to explore, is what the “Quantities” might look like as your goal varies.
Let's dive deeper into the theory and demonstrate with real examples.
The desired outcome of networking is about connecting with experienced individuals (quality) who are willing to help you, in general. We are taught, most commonly, to build networks early, simply by attending LOTS of networking events. I am sure this scenario sounds familiar:
You go to a professional networking event and then realize it's geared towards adults in the industry. "Get active and practice networking skills", you do as you are told; but It’s difficult to know who the interesting people are, and who you will have a chance to speak with. The high-stake speakers are surrounded by eager people all the time and you never have a chance. Attention is only won by those who shine, usually brighter than you do. Out of the 50 people you tried to network with, only a few of them could provide some value and add to your small network.
It's intimidating, competitive, and difficult for young students as a starter. The actual rate of finding the right connections is in fact very low during the experience. And people have to go through hundreds of them to get what they want.
But there's a smarter way:
Join an existing high-quality network instead of making connections from scratch. Right connections will be found in a high-quality network.
This method perfectly follows the rule of Find Quality in Quantities. My story could do a demonstration:
2 years ago, I joined a student organization called Tech Under Twenty through LinkedIn and started my journey as a young marketer. I have been supported by the community all along the way — having the chance of working with & learning from the program lead, sharing opinions in high-level conversations, leading small projects and more; I was even given a referral which secured a co-op opportunity (from the network) that enlightened me with industry-level knowledge. After a year of dedicated work, I advanced to a higher leadership position in the organization and worked to deliver greater impacts to our youth community.
It is one of the best decision in my life, looking back did I realized: I was exposed to so many opportunities — mentorship, expert insights, guided projects, referrals, internships, promotions — everything you could want out of your networking effort, which might take you five times longer to get it all in the industry, in contrast.
You might say it was lucky to find the right group that fits my needs out of all organizations. But what mattered much more than luck is to clearly identify what the right group looks like: an empowering group with people recognizing my potential and with resources supporting my growth is exactly right for an eager, diligent young student like me, I knew from the start. It fuels my passion, and commitment to Tech Under Twenty, which leads me to all the opportunities that fit with my goals and finally, being able to take advantage of them fully.
Joining a high-quality, extensive network yields better than building your own from scratch for a beginner. It is just like an accumulation of multiple networking events stacking onto each other, where you can access platforms, connections, opportunities, influences, and most importantly the support, which makes an existing network much more resourceful and useful. By maximizing the “quantity” of valuable connections, you are more likely to find the right resources.
Quality in Quantities, here it is.
Next let's talk about a more professional example, in which the desired outcome is sales.
Marketing is about finding the right people to use/buy the right product/service. But as we get smarter, we won't knock on every door in the neighbourhood anymore. We turn to virtual communities, social media, tradeshows, etc. and try to sell in bulk. However, you are never a stranger to this type of situation (even if you are not a marketer):
An announcement in the virtual group receives barely any views. Sales representatives stand all day at a booth outside of the crowd. Constant postings on social media pages with only a few "website clicks".
It happens because we sometimes forget one thing: a right group that buys, consists of the right customers — which means not only the targeted demographic, but also strong need/demand, strong initiative/engagement, and reasonable proximity.
Based on our rule of thumb, let's focus on finding the right group and how it generates a large number of sales. Here is another example:
To market the new virtual event to youth aged 12-20, I am given two social media groups to choose from, Group A with 500 members vs. Group B with 800 members. There are 30 spots open for our virtual event.
From observations, group A is an active youth community where members recommend many opportunities constantly to each other. Group B is more of an official group of a youth organization that constantly sends out different opportunities, but with a moderate level of interactions between members. Here is what the two groups look like:
Based on the analysis, I estimated that 50% of group A are highly motivated students we are looking for (whereas in group B, it's 20%) who will pay attention to our marketing information posted in the group. Assumed that rate the right audience is willing to use our service (conversion rate) is a constant, estimated as an 8%. Here's the final turnout:
For a small virtual challenge, I am only looking for 30 people to sign up (which wasn't easy as a youth organization sometimes). Marketing to group A gives me more customers than enough, whereas group B might give me a little more than half of the quantities I need.
In this case, the “Quality” (aka the desired outcome) of generating 30 sales by working with the right “Quantities” (social media group). Quota Completed!
Quod erat demonstrandum.
Understanding the rule Find Quality in Quantities, you are also able to apply it beyond networking or marketing -- whether you are a university freshman trying to determine which club to join, or a young entrepreneur reaching out to investors, you will find this rule helpful. These points might be handy as well:
Rule of Thumb: Right resources can be found in a group where a large quantity of them is present; desired outcomes can be achieved with the right target.
Must identify your desired level of quality and suitability of the groups. Does it have anything you need to realize your potential or support your success?
Ask yourself: what is your purpose? if you are not sure what you want to do or become, try brainstorming a list of things to your interest or a list of skills you want to develop. What do you want to get out of it? Consider your goals.
Explore & verify: Is there a solid organization behind the group? If so, how connected and supportive is the community? What about an inclusive environment, knowledgeable mentors, and helpful peers?
No pressure (I mean peer-pressure). If you intend to commit, make sure to find the right one for you -- with an appropriate level of quality, suitability, and challenges that push you to reach for higher.
Commitment: Ready to invest your time and energy. Use the group to its fullest potential.
Always be smart: Don't reach out to people one by one. A quality community will do it all.
Professional activities like networking, marketing, and more can be difficult for youth, as they are more often designed for and associated with adults. By sharing these insights, I hope to help break the barriers for ambitious youth to start their professional journey. I also hope to help build up the level of student support in career-related groups, communities, and networks, as my resource principle “Find Quality in Quantity” encourages group involvement in career. If you have the same intention as mine, you are always welcome to share your ideas and I am excited to hear more!
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