If there is one thing I have learned in my career so far, it is the power of networking. Every single one of my career opportunities, including my network of contacts in the New York City fashion and entertainment industry, are a result of networking. Once, on a flight back to the U.S. after a semester abroad, I sat next to a man who, as it turned out, used to work for NBCUniversal in Manhattan. I shared that I was actively pursuing a career in communications and a dream of living and working in the Big Apple. We chatted on and off for the rest of the trip – I mean, we had eight hours to kill. We stayed in touch long after we deplaned, and while his connections did not directly land me a job, I maintained a good rapport with him and those in his network that I connected with.
Who you know is so helpful in your career. More often than not, if you ask someone for advice or to connect with you, they are happy to help because they were in your exact position once upon a time. That’s the beauty of networking – helping those who come after you, just as the people before you helped you.
The second important part of networking – which makes the overall networking process a little easier – is to find a mentor in your field. A mentor can help guide you through your career, share advice and expertise, connect you with their network, pinpoint job opportunities, or help fine-tune and finalize your resume. I have been so lucky to have a few mentors thus far in my career, one of whom actually helped me connect with my now-colleague at Dittoe PR when I was applying for a job.
Finding someone to be a mentor isn’t as formal as the title might sound. If it seems intimidating, you don’t even have to use the term “mentor” specifically – they know what you mean. Remember, they were in your shoes, too, looking for someone they admired in their aspiring field to guide them.
The best way to start is to ask if they have time for an informational interview. These are key. People will admire your initiative to learn and willingness to take the time to make connections. Most often, anyone you reach out to will be flattered that you want to hear about their career and are happy to share their story.
Here are some tips for networking and finding a mentor to get you started:
- Research companies that you might be interested in working at and find out if any current employees are alumni of your university.
- Connect with people on LinkedIn who are of a similar age and in your field of interest and ask if they would like to meet for coffee (when it’s safe!) or hop on the phone to share more about how they got started in their career.
- Attend industry or networking events in your area and stay in touch with people you meet. Don’t forget business cards!
Like with anything in life, you get out what you put in. Putting in the research and effort to further your career will never be a waste of time, and the connections you make will be valuable throughout your whole career. You may even find yourself as the mentor sooner rather than later.
Interested in a career in PR? Reach out! A member of our team would be happy to connect and share what working in communications in Indianapolis is like.