Saturday, October 17, 2009

Benefits of Networking

Today was my day off, and I spent most of it working on job application materials, job searches, ideas for posts and, of course, networking!

My uncle Lynn -- thanks, Lynn! -- helped me get in touch with Randy Achee, who is the CEO of H&A Media Group. And no, I'm not gonna give you his contact info, go get your own well-connected uncle!

We were able to talk for about an hour (!) and he gave me some good common sense advice about how I can approach my job search and networking.

1. Look for an area that has need for my skills, but one that has also weathered the recession better than other areas, and that will grow well in the next couple of years.

2. Find ways that best showcase my skills in my resume. I have a couple of bullet points that expand on my skills and successes, and Mr. Achee reminded me that I need to be detailed and give examples of how I have been successful and how I've developed my skills.

3. Build my web exposure. I have a good head start with this blog, a website of my senior year projects, and I have a Twitter account that I use...sometimes. I think I'll get more use out of Twitter now that I have a blog.

4. Network! I hear this all the time now, but Mr. Achee pointed out to me that 30-40% of lower and entry level jobs will show up online, but the higher up you get and the longer you're into your career, the less positions you'll find online and in public sphere. Achee said that's when my social and business contacts will be most important.

I was relieved to hear from Mr. Achee that he felt I had a good journalism/new media foundation. It's been difficult at times for me in applying for jobs and talking to people about the experience I have.

Being a journalist is a bit like being an actor in that many others want to be the same thing. It can be a struggle to make myself stand out, and to not worry about being underqualified for positions.

Mr. Achee also mentioned that being young, fresh out of school and cheap in the way of salary are also distinct advantages for me. Before and right after I graduated, I wasn't so sure these factors would help, but it's nice to hear so from a successful executive.

Another reality is that starting in communications -- PR, marketing, magazines or online -- I have to be prepared to act as an apprentice. I won't get paid much, if at all, the first few years because it's about gaining experience and finding my voice as a writer. Just like the the craft apprentices of yore, I gotta work for free under the masters before they'll help me set up my own shop.

Even knowing this, it makes all the difference having people around me that care aboutwhat I'm doing and are willing to help me find my way.

Thank you, Mr. Achee for giving me your advice and being so generous with your time!

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