Not a day goes by without a message from someone who says to me, "I want to break into tech but I don't know where to start." The truth is, changing careers or breaking into a new industry can be a daunting task, but guess who else started from scratch at some point? Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and well, every other human being on earth. 

Starting from scratch might be scary but it is very possible if you go about it intelligently and systematically. Here are the first five things you can do to get started:

Ask yourself what your dream is. No, not your previous experience, your dream.

This is crucial. If you start the path asking yourself what you can do or what you have done as opposed to what your dream is, then you will never be able to reach your goal. Start by asking yourself what your most unattainable dream is, even if it makes no sense based on previous experience, and aim there.

Now if your dream is to be CEO of Google, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that just because it is your dream, that you are going to achieve it. What I am saying is that if you aim for the stars, you might land on the moon. Start with the dream, see where it leads you.

Make a wish list of people and companies that intrigue you.

Ok so you have decided that you want to do marketing at a company that is having a positive impact on the world, something that is making the world a better place. Great, that is the first step. Now make a list of companies or people who fit that description.

Remember, anyone who is going to help get you there is going to need specific names to introduce you to. You cannot expect that person to do the research for you. Come up with specific names, start with 20 and then you can take it from there.

Add a path to those people and companies.

Now it's time to translate that dream into action items. Who are you connected to online that can facilitate introductions to relevant people? Who are the relevant people that can even get you closer to your dream? Google is your friend, use it, research the industry, read a lot, learn, internalize, and try to acquire some domain expertise.

LinkedIn is a great resource for this because you can easily see who is connected to specific people in specific companies. In my opinion though, use LinkedIn for the research part, not for the actual introduction. For that, maybe take it to a more personal platform like text or email, depending how close you are with the person making the introduction.

Start developing a taste for coffee because there will be a lot of it.

The next step after making the list and finding a path is the actual networking. It is important that the person you are asking to meet does not feel like they are being sold to, no one like a salesman. The goal in this initial meeting is exactly that, to meet, preferably over coffee, because who doesn't like good coffee? Also, since you are the one asking for help here, the coffee is your treat. 

Start sharing your passion, network, and knowledge with others.

Once you have begun to establish the first foundation of a network and you have established some understanding of the industry, don't keep those resources in your head, share them. Just like someone else helped you get here, now it's time for you to think how to continue that cycle, thereby helping the next person but also elevating your brand and increasing your value.

Whether it is a personal blog, a podcast, or if you are good on camera, maybe even a vlog, the format matters less than the fact that you are paying it forward and helping the next person start from scratch. 

Starting from nothing can be terrifying for anyone but if done right, the nothing part disappears quickly and before know it, you are a well networked, highly knowledgeable professional who is sharing their insights with others. The road from there to a success story is short.

Published on: Jan 13, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.