Networking: the necessary nightmare

I am an introvert. Officially. According to the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator.

But  a necessary evil of wanting to one day be a part of a professional team of communicators ( versus living as a hermit in the uninhabited forests of a South American country) is the need to constantly meet new people.

And so Friday afternoon I attended the UNC JAFA Career Boot Camp, hosted by the J-School’s Career Services. The afternoon consisted of three panels and a networking session. First I’ll list the panel takeaways. Then I’ll discuss my personal networking experiences.

While each panel had a specific theme (resumes and cover letters, personal branding, and networking) the topics tended to overlap so I’ll break it down by category not panel order.

Resumes:

  • Include links. The employer is going to Google you anyway so save them some of the effort ( they’ll appreciate it).
  • Bullet point your skills at the top of the resume. Employers want to see experience AND skills outlined.
  • Be concise. Don’t take 50 words to describe something that should be said in 10.
  • Back it up. If you know AP Style, edit your resume for AP style ( this was actually on my to-do list before I went to the panel).
  • Quantify. Employers want to see specifics, not vague examples. The easiest way to convey results is to translate it in terms of numbers.

Cover Letters:

  • It really is subjective. Some employers think they’re useless. Some say it’s a good way to highlights specific elements of your resume.
  • Regardless it’s important to write well. It sounds obvious but if you’re trying to get a communications job and your cover letter doesn’t convey the ability to write concisely and on point you’re at a great disadvantage.
  • Why are you right for the job? Again, be specific. In most cases you’re applying for a specific job, so tailor your cover letter to reflect that.

Personal Branding

  • Control your Google results. Do this by being active on social media and having your own blog or website.
  • Keep it professional. It’s OK to have personal online accounts, but monitor what you post  if it’s not set to private .
  • Use one photo for all of your social media sites( Google +, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, etc). Think of  your  face as your brand’s “logo.”

Networking

  • Gain mentors who can give you career advice, not necessarily just help you get a job.
  • Informal networks are important too. Professors, family friends, recent graduates and others that you know might know someone looking for an employee with your skill set.
  • Have someone who will tell you the truth: feedback is important even if it’s not what you want to hear.
  • Stay in touch. Engage a former employer by emailing them about their company’s current work, your current work, or even just current events like sports. Also, meet up with people for coffee or lunch.
  • Go to networking events like the ones hosted by Career Services or local professional groups.

Which leads to me some advice I would like to give about my own experience this afternoon:

  • Networking sessions are awkward. There are normally more students than employers, so you might have to wait around awhile. Don’t let this discourage you. Be patient, or you can join in on the conversation an employer is having with another student. Just  be polite and do not take away the other student’s opportunity to talk.
  • Do research about the employers. While I thought I had a decent understanding based on my internet research I had done prior and on the fact sheets handed out, I realized after talking to some of the employers that I probably did a poor job of communicating that knowledge.  If my language had been more concise, and I had done more preparation, I could have prevented some misunderstandings.
  • Practice makes perfect.  Work on your pitch and preparation. Networking nights will probably always feel a little forced (they’re artificially created environments), but after you get past this you’ll feel more comfortable and be open to making more meaningful conversation.

If you couldn’t make it to the panel I hope this recap was helpful. I did see a student videotaping the panel so if a video is posted I’ll be sure to come back and link to it.

You can follow UNC JOMC Career Services @UNCJCareers.

As for now, I’m headed across the street to catch the #1 ranked field hockey team beat Old Dominion. Go Heels, Go!

P.S. If  you too are headed to the field hockey game, check out this infographic about the rules and regulations of field hockey.  Judging by the conversations I hear at Henry Stadium, a lot of Fever members could benefit from giving it a look.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s