“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It’s not exactly music to the ears, especially if you’ve spent a significant part of your college years within the confines of the library, working toward what you thought would be best for your future. Professional aspirations have been the driving force behind your perseverance and you certainly hope that the rewards will match your effort. In reality, your efforts may not be enough.

The economic forecast isn’t exactly promising. It seems as if these sorts of discouraging facts are being thrown out at will across all news networks. The state of the economy is a subject that occupies the front pages of newspapers all-too-often. Our familiarity with how difficult it can be to find a full-time job, even after graduating from a top university brings about anxiety and even sets off a panic among aspiring young professionals who had been hoping that their vision could be realized. What went wrong with the American dream? Is it still possible?

Yes, of course it’s possible, but it’s a little different. There is no pure “David vs. Goliath” story to be found within the real American dream. There are those who achieve considerable success, having started from scratch, but they do so with the help of luck and considerable help at crucial stages of their upward rise. For example, immigrants often come to the United States with scarce monetary resources and minimal connections. They spend a few years assimilating into the culture and acquainting themselves with people who eventually assist them in reaching their goals. Though you may hear people say “I did it all by myself,” it’s likely a bit of an exaggeration.

One of the most important skills to have in your arsenal is sociability. Approach people openly, showcase your worth through acts of generosity, and gain respect by being upstanding. Good people will notice your effort and reciprocate with similar actions. As long as you learn how to make positive impressions on people, you will have the advantage of others’ help whenever you are in dire need. People are generally empathetic toward those who show themselves to be worthy of admiration and respect.

This advice should not be interpreted as an encouragement of brown nosing. You should never be artificial in your interactions with people solely with the goal of gaining some sort of advantage. Do not let ulterior motives drive your social life. Being genuine always brings about the right result, in that you surround yourself with similarly good people. It is these types of individuals that can eventually make a big difference in your life. They can help you escape your struggles if they feel like you would be there to assist them in a similar situation. The value of making the right friends and acquaintances can never be underestimated. In the process of establishing such connections, you are literally choosing who you will be surrounded with for years to come. Make sure to not make these types of decisions lightly.