Archive for Networking
Today’s post is by Peppercomm’s co-founder, Steve Cody, and originally ran on RepMan.
I had that opportunity because I’ve been a member of the CofC’s Department of Communications Advisory Council for the past five years.
I must confess that, aside from my alma mater, Northeastern University, the College of Charleston is my extra special favorite place (that’s a riff on what the young Rep, Jr., used to call me).
During my visit, I participated in a speed networking event with 60 or so sophomores, juniors and seniors. As is the case with students I’ve met from other schools, yesterday’s group ran the gamut from the superbly poised and prepared to those who, shall we say, were somewhat lost at sea.
The best and brightest had it all:
- Relevant internships
- Significant pro bono/volunteer service
- A strong digital footprint
- A poised, professional manner
- The ability to listen and respond in the moment.
They also knew exactly what they wanted to do after graduation. One was combining her original interest in health care with her current passion for communications and intended to work within a large medical center after graduation. Another one had focused on internships in the fashion world and intended to combine that hands-on retail experience with her communications skills to work in the marketing group of a well-known department store.
And, then, there were the others. When I asked one senior how many interviews she’d lined up prior to graduating next month, she replied, “Oh, I’m much too busy studying for finals to worry about that. I’ll start looking after graduation.” Good luck with that.
Another admitted she had no real interest in communications at all and intended, instead, to pursue a completely different career. Oh. That immediately reminded me of a Millennial who recently interviewed at Peppercomm. When asked why she was interested in a career in PR, she responded, “Well, I’d really prefer to be a teacher.” End of interview.
Success in life is the end result of careful planning and hard work. Like their peers who are graduating from thousands of other schools this spring, some CofC students will become absolute rock stars. Others, though, will wake up in a few years’ time and realize they’ve let the world pass them by.
So, note to all college and university undergrads: the time to map your future isn’t after graduation. Focus on your passion now, land the internships that will build your credentials and network, network, network.
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Knowing how unpredictable the future will be, it’s that much more important to put a plan in place this morning and begin implementing it this afternoon. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself waking up at one minute to midnight with few, if any, career options.
Today’s post is a continuation of another post from one of our rock star interns & future PR pro, Jamie Hogan, on interview etiquette. You can read the first part here, but read on as she goes through some of the obvious (and some not so obvious) tips on how to be successful in your next job interview:
- Bring an extra copy (or two) of your resume printed on nice paper.
This is an “old school” rule of thumb, but one that should be followed. I don’t feel like this is stressed as much these days, but keep in mind that more often than not, you probably aren’t being interviewed by a millennial. If you’re asked for a copy of your resume and you have one on hand, you look mature and prepared.
- Speaking of prepared…PREPARE.
I once referred a friend for a job because she had been out of work for a bit and her past experience was a perfect fit for the position. I found out later that when asked why she was interested, her response was, “Because I need a job.”
Not only was this embarrassing for me (I referred her!) it was a blatant act of being unprepared for certain questions. You should always show up with a good response for the following:
“Why do you think this position would be a good fit?”
- “Because I need a job” is not going to work”
“Do you have any questions for me?”
- Do your research on the company. Have at least one (but hopefully more than that in case they answer it during your interview) question that you can ask.
“What is a negative quality that you possess?”
- I think this one is key. It’s easy to get caught up in singing your own praises (that’s what you should be doing!) but if asked, you don’t want to say, “I don’t have any negative qualities.” If that’s your answer, your negative quality is that you show up unprepared for things. On the other hand, don’t give an insincere response. They will see right through an answer like, “I work too hard, that’s always been my downfall.” Come up with something that’s realistic, but punctuate it by saying that it’s something you’re working to improve.
- Be yourself, but within reason.
Show off your winning personality, but maintain a level of competence and professionalism. If you get hired, you can (maybe someday) share stories of what happened when you went out last night, but during an interview is probably not the time. A personal anecdote here or there is fine if the situation really calls for it, but don’t go overboard.
A good interview is not just about being qualified, outgoing and coming in with a 4.0 GPA. While all of that can definitely help you score the job of your dreams, sometimes the devil is in the details.
And please, remember to forget that you own a cell phone.
Any tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way that Jamie should add to her list?
There are many things in life that annoy me and other people who hire for his or her respective companies, including, but certainly not limited to:
- Spelling errors on a resume/cover letter
- Using a different company name when mentioning the place you’re applying to
- A resume that’s on two pages—especially when you’re entry/mid-level, there is no need for a resume that long and if you do, make it two FULL pages; not a page and a half . . . or a page and a quarter
While these are pretty big errors, sometimes they can be saved by a follow-up note apologizing, etc. However, one faux pas that you can never save yourself from (without having a very legitimate excuse) is having a set interview time and not showing up/picking up the phone when you are called by the person who has set that time aside.
There is nothing more disrespectful to an interviewee and someone who coordinated a meeting time than to simply not show up. Of course, things happen and some people take different positions at other companies, but you should alert the person you’re meeting with to withdraw your application.
Many may think this is just common sense and the first rule of interviewing etiquette, but you would be surprised. It’s one action that will make me remember someone in a negative light. Cue Stephanie Tanner’s catchphrase.
What are your thoughts on this behavior? Do you think this is the kiss of death with a potential employer? Or is there something worse?
How many times have we written about this? We cannot stress it enough–the importance of networking. At any stage in your career, whether you’re an intern, mid-level or SVP of a company, it’s always important to network with colleagues, employers, potential employers and potential new hires.
Tomorrow night marks the 2nd Annual Intern Queen Party in NYC, with a great internship panel. Kristin Davie and I will be attending. Will you?
What networking opportunities have you been able to go to so far?
With our summer intern session, an added bonus of the season is that we allow all of our interns in the New York office to spend the afternoon at an annual event hosted by the Council of Public Relations Firms–Internfest. During the event (at NYU’s Kimmel Center) interns get to hear from a variety of industry professionals, including the keynote speaker Andy Polansky, President, Weber Shandwick and 2012 Chair, Council of Public Relations Firms.
Peppercom’s very own Nick Light, will be participating in a panel discussion as part of those events. There is also a chance to network with speakers and fellow interns. And you can catch Nick (and me) at the networking portion at the end. Be sure to stop by if you’re attending.
One need only to read the PR trades to see that agency life in general, and big agency life in particular, is a never-ending revolving door. It seems like some head of healthcare at one holding company agency is ALWAYS leaving to assume the exact same spot at another holding company agency.
And, although the trades never connect the dots, it’s also become commonplace for holding companies to report ‘record profits’ in one quarter only to silently announce a 10 percent staff reduction in the next.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that personal brand building has never been more important. In fact, I’d argue that lifetime employment has joined military intelligence as a textbook definition of an oxymoron.
That’s why I found this Top 10 list from Ford R. Myers so compelling. Myers is a career coach who has just penned a book, entitled: ‘Get the job you want, even when no one’s hiring.’
I was especially taken by numbers three, four and seven on the list:
- Don’t just join trade associations. Take leading roles in them.
- Constantly publish your POV on industry issues.
- Help others, even if they’re not in a position to help you right away.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that job offers and, more importantly for the owner of a midsized firm, new business leads have come about as a direct result of my embracing these three specific strategies.
Too many communications professionals wait far too long to begin building their personal brands. As a result, when the Grim Reaper does come around, they’re not only stunned, they’re also damaged goods (i.e. they’ve done the same thing for so long that their skills aren’t transferable).
Study the Myers list and, whether you’re 22 or 52, take his advice to heart. The more people you know and who know you, the better your chances of sustaining a lifelong career path. Make the mistake of focusing solely on your day-to-day work and, one day soon, you’ll find yourself a middle-aged, one trick pony who no one knows and no one is in any hurry to hire.
Ask not for whom the door revolves. It revolves for you.
This afternoon a number of members of our intern committee (myself and Kristin included) will be representing Peppercom at the PRSA event located at NYU. If you’re attending make sure to stop by and say “hello!”
New York University: Kimmel Center, 4:00 – 8:00 PM
10th Floor, Rosenthal Pavilion
For more details on the event, click here.
Guest post by Jason Fischbach, Peppercom intern and future PR pro.
As a lowly intern during my first week on the job, I walked into the manager’s office with my tail between my legs. I had to make a good impression; she was the highest ranked person
I’d be working with on one of my accounts. With no idea what I was about to say, I looked up. Over her shoulder was a picture of (arguably) the greatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky. I may have only been an intern for a week, but I’ve been a hockey fanatic for years. Suddenly, we were on the same level, talking as hockey fans.
You may not always be so lucky to see an idol pictured behind someone in a room, but odds are that somewhere surrounding the conversation, you can find a way to connect to that person. It’s these connections that really drive effective conversations, and they show you to be alert, insightful and (even if only seemingly) well-prepared. The simple ability to pick up details, or to do a little bit of research, can be a key differentiator between you and someone you’re competing with in an interview.
Here are a few hints about ways that you can pick up on these subtleties to help better prepare yourself for your next well-informed conversation:
If you have time, do some research!
- There should NEVER be an interview or similarly-pressured meeting where you haven’t taken the time to fully prepare. If you haven’t met the people before, do a quick search! A LinkedIn profile or Twitter feed can be a great way to learn a few tidbits about people. You’d be surprised at what you might find.
- If you’re at someone’s desk or in their office, odds are they’ve personalized it somehow. See if you have any visibly shared hobbies. If you don’t see something you can immediately connect to, ask some questions about what you do see. At the very least, you’re setting up the other person with a topic they know.
- If you’re meeting in spontaneously, see what you can take away from the situation. Does their outfit give any clues? How about the location itself? Maybe there’s a third party there? How about the weather? As cliché as that last one may be, it represents the age-old truth that you’re never interacting with someone in a total vacuum. Find something you share, and run with it.
Remember things you’ve experienced.
- As simple as this may sound, it can be an invaluable and overlooked skill. If you take something away from a first conversation that you can use to start or bolster a second, you’re at a huge advantage. It’s proof that you’re paying attention, and that you value your conversations as well as the relationships you’re building.
And finally, be yourself!
- It’s no secret that people love to talk about themselves, but not to themselves. You have to be that second person in the conversation. Presenting someone with information about their own lives doesn’t work unless you add something new into the equation. And if you’ve picked up on the right aspects, that should be easy enough to do. It’s important to note that you must be also be genuine: insincerity is often both obvious and detrimental.
As it turns out, that supervisor is a fan of my rival team. But so far, that’s been the only disappointment in our conversations over the past several weeks. It’s not hard to be a great conversationalist. But it can help you start a relationship that lasts a career, or even a lifetime.
Have any other tips or tricks for continuing the conversation?
Guest post by Ashleigh Green, Peppercom intern.
We have all heard of networking, but do we actually understand the importance behind it?
Right now as our economy continues to down spiral jobs are scarce, unemployment is high, and entry-level positions are even harder to come by. Most of us interns have one year left of college or may have just graduated. Those of us, who have taken an internship, have already taken a step in the right direction. But, is that enough?
I’ve learned you need to take it a step further and start networking. It’s never too early to start setting yourself up for future job opportunities.
Below are a few tips I have for my fellow interns and recent grads:
- Start by getting to know your colleagues at your internship and continue stay in touch with them after you leave. These colleagues can be great resources for advice and even good friends. Who knows, maybe you will be helpful to them as well.
- Research companies and people with careers you are interested in working at and pursuing. Set up informational meetings with these people and companies. It’s always a great idea to learn more about what people do on a daily basis and what their job responsibilities are. This will help you get a better understanding to see if the job or company is a right fit for you. It is also another good way to meet new contacts.
- If you want others to help you, start by helping yourself. You’ll find that most people love to help others, especially those starting their careers, such as ourselves. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, for referrals, or for people’s contact info.
- Use social media. Twitter/LinkedIn/Google+ are all good ways to connect and stay connected to people that you meet.
Remember: the way to getting the job you want in this economy is through networking and connections. So, go out there and start networking!
Any other tips on the best places and ways to network?