I decided on a career in journalism when I was in junior high school but, of course at that time I didn’t really know what it was it just had the word “journal” in it and I loved journaling. By the time I got to college it was pretty much set in stone that I was going to major in journalism because I just wanted to write. I learned early on that it was my superpower. As I began my studies I learned about the different types of journalism: print, broadcast radio and television, being terrified of talking to people, I decided on print because I thought it was more behind the scenes. Little did I know journalism required a whole lot of talking and networking.
The idea of walking up to random strangers for quotes and commentary for an articles scared the crap out of me and when I took an advanced journalism class that required us to complete this semester long project interviewing sources and people on the street I knew that I had to put on my big girl panties and woman up! I remember I had gotten an assignment investigating taxi accidents in NYC which required me to get quotes from taxi drivers, pedestrians and traffic cops and I remember I would walk for hours looking for someone “approachable” and less intimidating. I would see a person and circle the block trying to figure out what I would say to them and if I should just start with a simple “hey my name is…” Yeah I was that scared and awkward to the point where I would make up different personas about how I’m not from around here or how I’m the new girl as a media company just so people would talk to me.
How does this relate to networking?
For an awkward girl like me, networking can be the most intimidating thing ever just as it was approaching those people. Since then I have approached a thousand more people and I have gotten more and more comfortable with it. Networking doesn’t have to be so bad when you remember these simple things:
Small talk makes a BIG difference
Sometimes you need a little small talk to segway into a good conversation. If you’re nervous and have no idea what to say start with asking about a TV show, or something related to the networking event. I attended a networking happy hour hosted by Cosmopolitan in March and there were a hundred girls there looking to build connections, but only about five people who worked for Cosmopolitan there to network. They were probably used to hearing the same questions all night and asking for advice on getting themselves a job there, but I decided to take the small talk route and ask them questions about current events and things happening in pop culture which in turn opened up the floor to do some small pitching and possible article ideas with them.
Social Media isn’t just for personal rantings
Majority of the connections I’ve made this year have been via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter while marketing my blog and brand. I’ve joined several networking groups and have even made friends with some of these media folks. If you’re not comfortable meeting in person social media is definitely more than just a place to share your personal life. It’s great for networking.
You both have #SquadGoals on your mind
The purpose of networking is to build your connections and assemble a squad of individuals who would be beneficial to your mission. Networking is about give and take so if you can be of service to them, I’m sure they could be of service to you as well. I think Taylor Swift started a movement with her Squad.
If you are a job seeker, don’t be in such a rush to ask for a job right then and there. It’ll definitely make for an awkward situation. Don’t oversell yourself, be cool and remember to have an action plan before going to the networking event if you are attending one.