Golden Advice for ‘Life After College’

“HUH!!”

The entire room of college students grunted in unison at the encouragement of Nadia Bilchik, president of Greater Impact Communication, during her lecture last Wednesday. Nadia won over her audience with ‘power grunts’, free copies of her new book, Life After College: The New Graduate’s Guide, and most importantly, invaluable advice about thriving in the professional world.

The hot topic was networking, and Nadia stressed the importance of strategically building relationships (and eventually a network) through connection, conversation, and collaboration. When Nadia first came to America from South Africa in 1997, she says that she didn’t know anyone. And now, she hosts CNN’s Weekend Morning Passport with TJ Holmes.

Nadia Bilchik (center) with OU students, including her daughter Alexa Kesler '14 (second from right).

Nadia painted a picture of networking as a reciprocal process, saying “it’s not just about being a go-getter—success is about being a go-giver.” As a sophomore already thinking about how to go about building a career, that really resonated. She explained that people feel good about giving, but they won’t respond well if you’re demanding. According to Nadia, you have to be aware of how you approach people because they may not remember exactly what you say to them, but they will definitely remember the way you made them feel. And the way you make them feel starts precisely with how you feel about yourself.

Nadia encourages us to “always light the fire,” which essentially means to bring your energy and turn on a positive attitude. Naturally, humans will deal with a broad range of emotions as they go through life, but Nadia spoke about the importance of “acting up, even if you’re feeling down,” particularly in the workplace. Her secret? She channels positive emotions from moments when she’s been happy.

There were many lessons to be learned from Nadia: how to connect to people by expressing genuine interest in them, how to use social media to build your networking database, and how to simply avoid putting off negative energy by accessing positive memories. But, the main lesson I took away was how to take control even when feeling anxious about the future—and I already feel inspired and better prepared for what lies ahead.