I just realized that I got my first full-time gig as a result of networking. It wasn’t about the bright young recent college graduate with the spectacular C.V. What’s funny is that in 1990, I didn’t understand what networking was all about. I don’t even think I used the term.
Here’s the story:
A friend of mine called me and said that the indie hip-hop label Tommy Boy was looking to hire an administrative assistant in the Media Relations department. The year prior, we were not friends. I did not know him. I was in a PR class and our assignment was to produce a music symposium and handle all the publicity campaigns in order to pack the house and get media there. I was reading the Music Paper and he was the only guy writing about hip-hop in the paper. I invited him to be a panelist. I also booked Doug E. Fresh to be a panelist, which was the big draw.
Ever since my friend arrived on CW Post’s sprawling campus to impart his wisdom to an auditorium full of eager students, we have been great friends ever since.
So let me get back to the story. My friend was good friends with the VP of Media Relations at Tommy Boy. She needed to hire someone yesterday, as she was going to Japan with Queen Latifah and Digital Underground. I got the job. And it was all about who I knew. And who that person knew.
And let me not forget to add that when she checked my references, she realized that another one of her really good friends was one of my supervisors at my first internship. That guy is my mentor. That really sealed the deal.
Folks have to realize that compiling great contacts along the way is essential to staying in the game. Soon-to-be-college-graduates should not only focus on GPA, but make sure they grab as many internships as possible. I really believe that internships are the first networking groups that young adults join, but I didn’t know it at the time I did my first one in 1988.
When you move up the ladder in whatever industry you are in, you will see a pattern. People are getting the titles and positions they crave because of spending time on the golf links with Ted. Or going to dinner with Susan. Or being on the same not-for-profit board as Geoff. Your work experience definitely matters, but there’s nothing wrong with having good relationships with people in a position to help you achieve your career goals. Is it nepotism?
It’s called Networking, and there’s nothing wrong with it. I would not have had this career, if I hadn’t gotten coffee for some good people.
(photo credit: explanatorium)