Archive for Networking
Today’s post is by Peppercomm intern, David R. Jolly.
You walk into a room full of strangers and you pause at the entrance. You’re thinking twice about gracefully exiting stage left, but you know deep down that you didn’t come this far to turn back now. Taking a deep breath, your legs lead you into the room and your eyes scan for a familiar face, but there are no eyes staring back. There are groups of people, usually in sets of three to four and they all are forming circles as if telling you not to interrupt. Before self-sabotage completely takes over, you find the sign-in table and you quickly make your way to it. Being greeted by a warm smile you start to relax, but after placing your sticker name tag on the right side of your chest, you know it’s time to invade these networking cliques and tell the world that you have arrived.
Alright, networking isn’t this intense, but it can be frightening going into a room full of professionals and students without knowing another person. Yet, that’s the great thing about it; you get a fresh start to reinvent yourself for this crowd. You have the power to share or not share details about your career and life. Before you turn back without giving networking a chance, invade those cliques and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. It may be awkward, but it can be fun, too.
As you get more comfortable with working the room it’s important to not only talk about yourself, but remember to give time for others to speak. No one likes a conversation hog. You don’t have to stick with just talking with professionals; it’s also good to talk with other students/interns. You all can share experiences and tips from your newly begun careers.
Besides bringing the charm, you should also bring business cards to exchange with those you meet. Having a business card as a young professional makes you more memorable. Plus, who doesn’t like saying, “here’s my card.”
You’ve worked the room more than once, made a lot of great connections and now the networking event is coming to an end. You spot the door and now you start gracefully networking your way out. Be sure to grab any handouts, maybe a cookie for the road and make sure you’ve talked with everyone that you possibly could. Now that you’re on the other side of the networking event, it doesn’t stop there. When you get home it’s time to follow up online with those you met.
This is the perfect time to put your cyberstalking skills to good use. Slam your stack of newly collected business cards on the table and start going through them (*tip: write the date, place/event, note to remember that person directly on card). Feel free to type their names in a search engine, connect on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. Take it to the next level and send them an email; state who you are, encourage them to connect with you on LinkedIn and Twitter and mention a memorable moment and/or conversation you had with them (if you can remember).
Now that all of that is done, take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. Networking may seem scary, but it’s a crucial component of your career.
Do you have any networking tips or stories?
Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm interns Nick Gilyard and Taylor Hatch and originally ran on RepMan on August 1.
Tuesday night marked the third annual Intern Queen Party, hosted by the “Intern Queen” herself, Lauren Berger, a well-known career and internships expert. The event was both a celebration and a chance to network with a panel of top intern coordinators and executives from companies such as Mashable, Cosmopolitan, and US Weekly.
At least, that’s how the event was advertised.
We were very excited to be Peppercomm’s intern representatives at this much anticipated event. But, most unfortunately, it was a disappointing evening. The event was billed as a fun and exciting venue for interns to network and obtain career advice from professionals. But in reality it was a party to promote the Intern Queen’s personal brand..
The problems began in the line outside the Ann Taylor Flagship Store, where the Intern Queen Party was held. Since the first 100 guests inside were promised a gift bag, we arrived an hour before doors were scheduled to open and were surprised to see a line of 50 interns had already formed.
It seemed we were waiting to enter a club rather than an event with professionals. Many of our fellow interns—almost entirely female—were dressed in tight clothing with short skirts and sky-high heels. After about 45 minutes, a bouncer came through the line, rejecting numerous fake ID (yes, hopeful interns actually tried to use fake IDs at an event filled with potential employers) and handing out pink wristbands to all legal guests for the open bar.
We were greeted by music blaring from the DJ on the second floor, and Bartenders in tight, pink shirts that read, “Keep Calm and Intern On” handing out drink after drink to those swarming the bars. Of course, we have both attended professional events where drinks were served, but we had never seen this happen at an intern-centered event (perhaps because most potential employers and mentors prefer that interns not be buzzed when asking for advice). It reminded us of a college party, with people rushing to the bar for as many drinks as possible before it closed.
At Peppercomm, we see a lot of brands run into trouble when the service they think they are providing doesn’t at all match up to the experience the customer is having. This is why it’s so important to listen to your consumers and to experience your brand or service through their eyes. So here are some things that The Intern Queen brand might want to take into consideration:
• RSVP has a purpose. It is unacceptable to insist that attendees RSVP, print out tickets and wait in line for over an hour only to get inside and realize people who are clearly neither interns nor invited professionals are wandering in off the street. This makes the customer who took the time to preregister feel fooled and undervalued.
• First 100 should mean FIRST 100. Promising the first 100 people into the event a gift is a great way to ensure that people show up early. But having people show up early only to open a second line for what could only be perceived as VIPs minutes before the door opened is dishonest, which is never a good thing.
• Space matters. If the point of the event is to network and listen to a panel but there are entirely too many people to do either, you’ve failed your guests. We could not make it up to the third floor when it was time for the panel discussion due to the sheer number of people attempting to crowd the stairs. Even attendees who did manage to make it to the panel complained that they were so far away they could not even hear the experts’ advice.
• Be inclusive. If your invitation is open to everyone (males and females) but the event caters only to women (with teal, over-sized totes as gift bags and professional makeup artists doing touchups for free) then you are being misleading and exclusionary, two words that can be extremely damaging to any brand.
The criticisms we’ve made thus far about The Intern Queen Party would be nothing but minor complaints or annoyances if it weren’t for the element that has plagued many a brand: deception. As interns we developed certain expectations after reading about Ms. Berger and the promotions for her event.
Perhaps our expectations were a bit naïve, but we expected an event for interns and hosted by such a well-respected career expert known as the “Intern Queen” to serve interns in a meaningful, career-minded way. Instead, we were handed copies of Ms. Berger’s book and offered the opportunity to pose with her in pictures, making us feel used rather than valued.
Based on our experiences and observations at Peppercomm, we even commented that the Intern Queen Party had all the elements for a great example of public relations. Obviously, it is both acceptable and smart to build word-of-mouth around your brand. Some strategies include generating an eye-catching line outside the door, offering giveaways of your product, and encouraging photo-ops.
However, when you succeed at generating attention for your brand while failing to provide value for your customers, that is nothing but bad PR. While we appreciated the opportunity to attend the Intern Queen Party, frankly, we left feeling more like jesters than royalty.
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.