I recently had a request for some help from a young woman who is graduating this spring from a nearby college. She asked if I could help her get started towards finding work in the communication field.
It got me thinking about a couple of different things. The first became even clearer while listening to Seth Godin’s latest book Linchpin. Most of us come out of school woefully prepared to make our way in the world. We offer a prospective employer only the promise that we’re not really as pathetic as our resume make us out to be. We almost never have any actual experience doing anything valuable. We generally think we’re smarter than we really are, and that we should be paid more that we’re worth.
The second was just how connected you can become by going out and actually meeting people. I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to build up my network in Raleigh. When I received that email the other day was really the first time I stopped to consider the awesome people I am now connected to.
So back to the first point. My advice to someone just getting started is hustle. If you’re unsure what that means, watch some of Gary Vanerchuk’s videos (or read his book). If you’re still unsure, go have lunch with Molly Buckley and she’ll explain it. Molly lives hustle 24/7, or watch how someone like Gwynne Murphy works her ass off for two different companies and still finds time to attend a ton of networking events and volunteer at still more.
Make yourself desirable. Make yourself memorable. Look at yourself from the other side of the table. Why should someone like Ignite Social Media hire you? There’s no doubt 100 other resumes in the pile with yours that are equal to, if not better than yours. I can tell you that the fancy typeface and extra thick paper you printed your resume on won’t be the deciding factor.
What if you already knew a person who worked there? What if you knew a couple of them? What if you had previously bumped into Jim Tobin and left a good impression? Then your resume might not even be in the pile with the other 100 people.
You’ve heard the old saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Often you hear that said in a derisive way from someone who didn’t get a job or promotion. Usually that person spends more time playing fantasy football at ESPN.com than worrying about what’s going to happen when her job goes away, so she’s unprepared and caught flat-footed.
There’s another saying, “build your network before you need it.” That is one of my favorites. Very early in my social media life, I was sitting next to Raleigh’s Mr. Hustle, Wayne Sutton. We were at a small tweetup because Jason Keath was in town. It was my first visit to The Pit BBQ and the manager came out to say hello because of all the chatter he saw on Twitter about the tweetup. Wayne and the manager chatted for a few minutes and left the door open to do something better planned in the future. After he left, Wayne said 3 important words, “always be networking”. There were a few other people at that dinner that I have since become friends with, all of them have large and influential networks. Knowing them allows me to connect with their networks if needed, and vice-versa.
Last week I met Sara Gilbert and Morgan Eberle at the Raleigh Media Leaders event. What impressed me about both of them is that they were smart enough to show up. They were hustling. I approached them right at the beginning of the event because I hadn’t seen them around before, and once they said UNC and Journalism I knew I could connect them to at least 2 other people with the same background at the event. I pointed out my friend Morgan Siem to them and saw them all talking a few minutes later. I’m not sure what, if anything, will come of that meeting for any of them, but it’s a connection all 3 would have missed out on if they had stayed home and watched tv.
So if you’re graduating soon, what are you doing to get a jump on your competitors? Do you have your Facebook page locked down properly? Do you have a Twitter stream that wouldn’t scare away an potential boss? How’s your LinkedIn profile? How’s your blog look?
If you think you’re going to be able to run past Molly, Gwynne, Sara and Morgan by simply emailing in your resume, you may want to apply to grad school tomorrow.
100m photo by Jonas Merian