Friday, April 27, 2012

#FridayFive Networking

Guest Blogger: Steven Coyle, graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, with a degree in Public Relations 

How I Got Over My Networking Fear

One of the first things I was told by my public relations professors was, “Learn how to network, your career will depend on it.” Immediately I developed this odd fear of networking even before I knew what it truly meant. I was that one kid who told himself, my skills should get me the job not my connections. I was quickly proved wrong.

The truth is you need both; the connection and the skill. After going through a deep unemployment depression, I snapped out of it, threw my pride out the window and started networking.

Twitter became my mecca for networking. I found my niche in participating in twitter chats, responding to influential professionals and giving my own advice to others. I was no longer afraid.

Honestly my fear was truly based on the fact I didn’t know how to network. I would just simply collect random business cards of professionals I met and then ask myself, what do I do now? Do I just ask them for a job? Do I just email them my resume? The confusion was discouraging. So in-case you’re discouraged, here are five things that helped me.

1. The worse they can say is “No.” They could possibly say more rude things but the usual response of someone who doesn’t want to help you is no response at all. Out of the 14 professionals I reached out too, only 4 responded. Rejection is a huge part of the industry, just get use to it.

2.Twitter Chats! Find a twitter chat that interest you and participate. I love chats about job hunts and resume building. HAPPO hosts some really good ones. I always learn something and meet awesome people.

3. Follow-Up. If you met a professional who is willing to help you and give you advice, try your hardest to keep up with. Learn their clients or some of their interest and follow up with small things. If you notice some press about their clients, send them a congratulations. Show them that you aware of what’s going on and that you have an interest in him or her. But don’t fake it, and don’t bug them. No one likes a suck up.

4. Have your own stories. Whenever you are meeting with a professional to discuss anything regarding help or advice be prepared to share your own stories. I feel like this helps them relate to you more. If you two can find some common ground they will remember you.

5. Join professional groups on LinkedIn. I belong to about 4 groups and actively participate in all of them. Find a topic you are interested in or know about and engage in conversation. Show them that you have personality and expertise then use it to your advantage. Follow the people who you responded to on twitter, engage with them there and then ask them for advice. Like I said in number one, the worse they can say is no.
I haven’t mastered this whole networking game, but these things have helped me become a whole lot better.

Steven Coyle is a social media strategist based in Chicago, IL.
Find him on twitter: @steveninpr

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