I have always enjoyed networking.
It’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.
- 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.”).
- 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.
My 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.