Who you should be networking with right NOW!
So, it’s time for a really awesome announcement! I got another internship! How did it happen? Completely by accident. In the short amount of time I’ve spent in the world of internships and PR, I’ve found that many things, as they happen in life, aren’t planned, and happen by chance.
I applied for a regular ole’ job at a local newspaper, not thinking I’d get a call back, and ended up being sent right to the communications director of the publishing company the next day! It was very sudden, and I wasn’t exactly sure what they wanted me to do, but I entered the interview ready for whatever they might ask of me. Before I knew it, I was asked to be their PR intern! It all started when the person I initially sent my resume to (regarding the job) took the initiative to read through my resume and decide to forward it to the PR department for a different (better) opportunity that wasn’t even being advertised!
It is thoughtful people like this that are virtually indispensable in your professional life! This woman, who I have since met in person, thanked, and added to my “network”, had absolutely no obligation to help me out! She could have just printed out my e-mail attachment and tossed it in the stack of resumes without a single glance, because it wasn’t her responsibility.
As always, the little stories of circumstance from my life have a purpose. This week, it’s to bring you a very important message about networking! You might want to just network with the most popular faces, aka the “cool kids”, but most of the time, they will not have time to help you out. If they can’t form a professional relationship with you, you’re going to waste your time dwelling on a weak connection. Weak connections don’t give you good recommendations on LinkedIn or make for good reference individuals on resumes.
Instead, hone in on the people who are genuinely helpful, the ones you can tell work their butts off, and the ones that you click with, just like you click with friends. This way, you are not only making a connection, you are investing your time, their time, your interest, and their interest into something that has value! That being said, you should mirror these traits so that your connections will be able to benefit from you as well!
Just like normal friends, networking partners should be chosen based on more than just their popularity, good looks, or other surface features. Yes, in the PR world these things are important- they’re part of a person’s public image! But that is all the public will see. We will more often work on the internal side of the industry, and therefore, as cliché as it sounds, what will count the most in the long run is what the people in your network are like on the inside. Who you network with reflects who you are becoming as a professional. When you network with hard workers and just plain nice people, you are putting yourself in a very productive environment that, if utilized correctly and often, will result in an accomplished career! You will establish a dedicated work ethic, as those who surround you have, and your positive attitude gained from them will rub off onto your daily tasks, interactions, and long-term progress.
Before all the wonderful benefits of meaningful personal-level networking can be sown, you have to find those people who will form your network in the first place! Since everyone’s situation is very different, below is a general list of people that, if the opportunity arises, you should most definitely begin a professional relationship with. These people will most likely be as I described: hardworking, friendly connections! Again, this is just a list to get the gears turning in that genius brain of yours!
- The professors you got to know through frequent office hours visits.
- Your university college AND major-specific advisors.
- ANYONE in the Career Services department here at OU.
- Your old boss (surprising to most, they can be trusted allies).
- The person you ended up chit-chatting with for 20 minutes at an on-campus or networking event.
- The other Gaylord majors you met in your Writing for Mass Media class.
- Student assistants you got to know in gen-ed courses.
- The secretary/ receptionist at your current or previous job/ internship.
- (the most obvious of them all) Your PRSSA mentor, new chapter officers [including me!] and other members of PRSSA, including Pritch!