Monday, September 15, 2008

Bake Your Network From Scratch

As we begin the long transition from college into the professional world, the number one thing we are told is build your network, build your network, BUILD YOUR NETWORK!  (OK, we get it already!)  But what if, a few years down the road, we decide that the place we built our network isn't quite right?

OK, take me for example: I attended college in Oregon and was actively involved in PRSSA, PRSA and AHPR, attending meetings and conferences on a regular basis.  Through these organizations I was able to build a solid network in Oregon throughout college, so when it came time for me to look for jobs in Portland all I had to do was call up a few of the people I had networked with!  Landing a great job seemed almost too easy... 

But job-hunting in LA has been a bit frustrating for me, largely because I haven't had a chance to build a network down here.  Sad, but true, that our resumes are worthless unless we can get them in front of the right people.  And that usually takes knowing someone.  Aka, networking.  While job hunting in LA over the past month, I have picked up a few good techniques to build a network... from scratch.    
  • Join a local PRSA chapter as soon as you arrive in your new town.  Begin attending meetings, and let it be known that you are an excellent candidate on the prowl.    
  • Pick up the phone.  Call companies you are interested in and ask to set up a time for an informational interview.  Most companies, even if they aren't hiring, won't say no.  And if you wow them during the interview, any smart company will try to make room for you.  
  • If the prior fails, try turning to social media.  More and more companies are begining to use social media to find qualified candidates, and if you are active in the social space it could work to your advantage.  I found several jobs I applied for through LinkedIn, and I even spent some time browsing LinkedIn Exec. resumes to surface good companies in the area.  
  • Start your own blog.  As more clients are beginning to ask their agency counterparts for social media guidance, having a knowledge of social media is a huge value that young professionals can bring to an agency environment.  And there is no better way to showcase your knowledge than by blogging about it.        
  • Ask former coworkers, friends - anyone - if they know someone in PR and if they wouldn't mind sharing the person's contact info. with you.  For example, my roommate (who has nothing to do with PR) mentioned she knows a guy in PR, and two days later I had an interview!  I never would have even thought to ask her, so sometimes the least likely people can have the best connections.  
  • Last but not least... Building a network from scratch is hard work, and it takes some time.  Don't expect to move somewhere and get a job right away, but definitely do all you can to build your network prior to relocating.  

2 comments:

Ray said...

I loved that easy bake oven. Linkedin is taking off, it was just added to About.com's top 10 employment list with 2 others....from that list:

www.linkedin.com (professional networking)
www.realmatch.com (matches you with an ideal job)
www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)

top 10 list here:
http://jobsearch.about.com/od/joblistings/tp/jobbanks.htm

Andrea said...

Thanks for the tip; great list! I've only tried a few of the highlighted sights, but online job hunting is the way to go.