As students, we’re constantly looking forward and curious about the next steps we’re going to take. We think about how we’re going to make it in the professional world and how will we find an internship or a job. But when applying for these things, we all know it’s not just the gold stars on your resume that gets you a job. It’s who you know and who knows you. With these 5 tips you’ll be able to make a name for yourself in the professional world, before you even send out your first resume.
1. Attend Networking Events.
Being open to any networking event or group that has networking opportunities is important when starting your career, because it allows for you to find your true passion. This is especially important in the Ad and PR world, where there are endless avenues to take to become a professional. By attending events and networking, it will make your search for the perfect path much easier. Talking and sharing ideas with professionals and peers can help you zero in on the type of work you’ll enjoy for the rest of your career. You’ll become very in touch with what’s happening in the field and you’ll be able to curate new ideas and share them within the industry. By allowing professionals to look over and edit your resume and interview skills, you’ll know what employers will be looking for in your next interview.
2. Don’t Stress.
Not being scared to ask questions to find out more about the kind of work you’ll be doing in your future is vital. So, there’s no need to stress about looking naive when networking. Most of the time the professionals you’re talking with are not expecting to be blown away by your knowledge and experience. You’re still exploring the field and finding out who you are in the Ad and PR world. So, when you attempt to connect with someone after an event and don’t receive and response right away, don’t stress. Professionals are busy and often when they see an email from a student looking for guidance they’ll think, “I’ll come back to this when I have more time to give a thoughtful answer.” On the other hand, they may forget, or it may get lost in their inbox. In that case, don’t be afraid to send a small reminder because it will go a long way.
3. Be Genuine.
Networking is all about being genuine, authentic, and building trust to build relationships. When attending events, don’t just run to every person you see and talk to them for two or three minutes and then move to the next person. Networking is about quality over quantity. Spending time with someone and really having a honest conversation is what will help you in the long run. People are looking to find what makes you, you. You can’t show someone who you are in two minutes. Most lasting relationships are made of a shared connection from more personal stories. So ask open ended questions. The simple “what do you do” and “how do you like it” will only get you so far. Those questions are good way to start a conversation, but relaying on these alone won’t lead into a meaningful conversation. Spark something that’s unique and memorable.
Every person is given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening is one of the strongest tools you can use when networking. Taking the time to hear what others are saying and actually processing it, will help you understand it better. Don’t just ask questions for the sake of asking; stop and hear what that person has to say. Many people fall into the bad habit of “waiting to speak listening.” This is the type of listening when you ask a question and watch their mouth move while you think of the next question to ask. When someone can tell you’re truly listening and absorbing, they’ll enjoy your conversation more. If you do all the talking it’ll make the other person feel that you are uninterested in what they have to say. Summarize what the person just said when you answer to show that you’re comprehending the story or message their telling you. By being an active listener, you’ll be able to create stronger bonds.
5. Keep it going on LinkedIn.
Once you make the connections at networking events, take the mass amount of business cards you’ve collected and search them on LinkedIn. By adding them right after the event, you’re keeping their memory of you alive in a sense. They’ll see your face again and be able to recognize you better than if you added them a week later. But you can’t stop there, by simply adding them and letting that connection sit there, you’re not growing the relationship in any way. You have to keep posting regularly to stay a relevant face and name. By posting about activities or jobs you’re apart of can show future employers your skills and experience.
Networking can be hard and a lot of times scary, but the more you get out and do it, the more comfortable you’ll become with it. Being yourself and being ready to listen will make it more enjoyable for everyone involved, because in the end, what people are really looking for, is you.
Justin Scott is a sophomore at GVSU majoring in Advertising and Public Relations with an emphasis in Advertising and minoring in Studio Art focusing on Graphic Design. This year, Justin is on GrandPR’s creative team. In addition to his work for GrandPR, Justin is a on the Advertising and Public Relations Alumni Relations Committee. He’s involved in Advertising club and the Stand-Up Comedy club on campus. On his weekends, you can find Justin preforming stand-up, keeping up with whatever new show he’s watching, or looking for the next new item to put in his closet.