netWORKING IT

I have always enjoyed networking.

facebook-logoIt’s amazing how truly interconnected this world is. I recall when each Facebook profile linked to a diagram that showed a tangled web of how one’s contacts were connected. Now as a young professional, I see this in a real, tangible way. Wherever I go, I find someone who knows somebody from somewhere in my past.

This past week and current weekend have become somewhat of a networking bonanza for me. I’ll spare you the details of e-mails and LinkedIn invites and fast-forward to something a little more exciting.

Today I attended the PRSA-NY Career Forum at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology. At first I was worried about the small number of employers at the event (would I be wasting $15 dollars and train fare–these things add up quickly for the unemployed recent grad!), but I decided to view it more as an opportunity to get advice from seasoned professionals and start relationships that may help me down the road when the economic climate improves.

A couple examples of how little pieces of your past can reappear in your present/future:

  • Upon receiving my résumé, an account executive from one of the agencies I am very interested in realized I graduated from high school with one of her best friends!
  • Another agency was asking about my experience in sports, as they are launching a campaign with a healthcare client and the NFL. It turns out, the client is one I previously worked with while a marketing/global events management intern at TRACS, Inc.

Those are the little connections that make networking fun!

One of the highlights of the career forum was a keynote speech by Peter Shankman, founder of Help A Reporter Out. For the sports marketing enthusiast who may come across this blog, he’s analogous to a Bill Veeck (if Veeck had decided to pour all of his crazy ingenuity into the public relations business). I plan to write another entry about Shankman’s speech, but while on the subject of networking I’ll bring up two pieces of advice that he had for the crowd.

  1. Start each day by saying “Happy Birthday” to everyone on your Facebook profile celebrating their birthday that day. Be genuine, but also look for opportunities to start a conversation (“Happy birthday, you look great in your new photo!” or “Happy birthday! We’re long overdue for a drink, give me a call and we’ll make plans for a celebratory drink.”).
  2. Each day, go through your rolodex and pick out 10 business cards (for the up-and-coming professional like myself, this number may need to be reduced for the sheer fact that I’d be through my rolodex in a week’s time). Call those individuals just to “check in.” Ask what they are working on, see how their family is–that’s all it takes. Aim to talk to everyone in your rolodex a minimum of 3-4 times a year.

    It is definitely a gutsy move and outside the comfort zone of most young professionals, but that is probably what makes it such a good tactic.

Despite this economy, I left the conference today feeling inspired and with greater confidence that I am in control of my own destiny.

Boston Marathon Finish LineMy next big (and do I mean BIG) event is the Boston Marathon this coming Monday. It’s my third year as a volunteer, and I’m thrilled to be working media relations at the finish line.

According to the Boston Athletic Association, “In terms of on-site media coverage, the Boston Marathon ranks behind only the Super Bowl as the largest single day sporting event in the world.”

This, of course, makes for a fun, challenging environment for any aspiring sport publicist, and I am excited to be a part of it!

Check back soon for coverage of the marathon and thoughts pertaining to PR innovator Peter Shankman.

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