When My Education Wasn’t Enough

When My Education Wasn’t Enough
May 2001 From the St. Louis Business Journal

When my education wasn’t enough…
We asked two local business people to talk about when they needed more than formal training.

Lauren Kolbe, 27
Marketing & Communications Consultant

Background: After graduating in 1994 from the University of Southern California, I returned to St. Louis and went to work for a small manufacturing company. I worked my way up to become marketing director in 1999. After the company closed in September 2000, I joined Dave Shogren who was forming The Davis Group, a Clayton-based small-business consulting firm.

When my education wasn’t enough: Maybe your college, like mine, didn’t offer a “Building Relationships 101” class. Yet this skill as as important as (if not more important than) everything else you learn in school.

For more than six years, I worked in marketing for a small manufacturing company. Last fall, the company unexpectedly ceased operations. I put together my resume, scanned newspaper ads, surfed the Internet and talked with recruiters.

But that’s not how I found my new career. I landed my job through professional relationships I had built over the years. I had my list of contacts but wasn’t effectively working it until a friend and colleague helped me understand where to start and how to ask my contacts for help. I took his advice and found that each of my contacts put me in touch with others, who put me in touch with others, and so on.

Through this exercise, I not only found a new job but also built several new relationships with professionals who act as mentors and great sources of business referrals and to whom I, in turn, can act as a mentor and great source of business referrals.

The moral of the story: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I learned it was up to me to step outside my comfort zone and build relationships with professionals both inside and outside my field – something they didn’t teach me in school.