Networking Tips That Actually Work
Photograph by Sarah Ratner
I'm seriously loving these career posts so far. My posts that kicked off this series with Alyssa (to read them click here and here) were so well-received and I'm glad you feel like you took something away from them. I took to Insta Stories last week to ask you all which career post you wanted next, and this one was definitely the most requested. I'd love to also do how to get an internship in fashion soon, and if there are any others that you're hoping to see, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at email@example.com. One other thing, I'm going to write these answers with a publishing slant because that is the industry I work in, but they can certainly apply to other fields!
1. Set monthly networking goals for yourself
I may be one of the only people who actually enjoys doing this, but setting realistic goals for yourself that you know you can achieve (whether for networking or otherwise) is one of the biggest steps you can take towards meeting them. My loose monthly networking goals are to add five new contacts on LinkedIn that I've met in real life and to send one or two check-in emails to former bosses or people I've worked with, and attend one networking event. One of the best pieces of career advice I've ever received is to never ask for a favor out of nowhere. If you already have a relationship with someone, they'll be more inclined to help you when you do actually have to ask for something down the road.
2. Update your LinkedIn at least once a month
Even if you feel like nothing has changed with your position, it's always good to make sure all of your info is up to date. Every time I look at my LinkedIn, I find a comma that's out of place or a link to an article of mine that doesn't work. Maintaining a good presence online is super important whether you're applying for a job or not because it shows your attention to detail and that you are also aware of what other people see when they look you up.
3. Use social media to your advantage
I met one of my friends who works at another publication through Instagram. I followed her when I was an intern at Hearst because I saw she was a fashion assistant at another publication and she followed me back. We followed each other's lives for a few years, and when I was approaching my college graduation, I reached out to her and asked if she'd like to get brunch with me. She was more than down to talk to me and even though her company wasn't hiring, hearing about her experience was so valuable and it made me feel so much more confident about post-grad life. Plus, now we're friends in real life!
4. Reach out to people with careers you admire
This kind of adds on to the story I just told in #3, but if you follow an editor on Instagram who you admire, reach out and tell her so and ask to take her to coffee. So many people in the publishing world have incredible insights to share and are usually willing to hop on the phone or meet during their lunch breaks to answer any questions. Everyone likes compliments, so this is an easy win. Tell them what your goals are and ask if they have any tips on how to help make them happen.
5. Attend events in the industry you work in
I am always on the look out for events to attend where I know other editors will be present because they're such a fun and easy way to meet people. Some people hate this part of networking and it can totally be awkward at times but the more you put yourself out there the more it will pay off in the end. I always check ed2010.com to see if they're hosting any happy hours or mentoring workshops, and I try to attend events when PR people invite me to them through NYLON.
6. Use the network you already have
If all of this reaching out to new people stuff feels overwhelming it's because it can be. One of the best things you can do is reach out to your pre-existing network. There are probably people from your high school or college (or summer camp, friends of friends, your cousins' hairdresser's boyfriend etc.) who are working in a field that interests you. I always try to respond when I get messages from current Barnard or Columbia students about what I did to get my job and when I'm not crazed I always try to find time to chat with them. I do this now because I remember how I felt last year when I was looking for a job and I would have loved it someone had done the same for me.
And that's it! I think that these are all a good place to start, whether you're looking to meet new people in the field you work in or want to get involved with a new industry. What is the best networking advice you've received?