This blog post is more personal than a how-to or list type blog. I really wanted to touch on why making connections can help you in personal ways as well as in terms of employment. Let's start with my back story:
I was a college student and had no idea what I wanted to do. I liked to write, had good communication skills and enjoyed working with people--plus I was always the first in my school to be on a new social media platform (I was the first of five students to have a Facebook when it debuted). Anyways, this obviously led me to the Communications degree. I went through the motions and started my classes, but then one thing no one tells you back in high school is that it isn't your grades that are going to get you the job, but the connections you make along the way.
Luckily, I have parents that helped me make this realization and so I went for any opportunity I could to make a connection and get involved. I became close with the head of the Communications department at my community college who then asked me to be Editor-in-Chief of our paper after proving myself capable of the job and just being a kind person to her. It's crazy how being kind to one person can lead to many other opportunities.
My E.I.C position then lead to a stint at a local paper, then a regional paper and both of these opportunities lead to two public relations internships, and those public relations internships lead to a position at a non-profit, women's magazine as well as a position for a marketing firm in which they originally hired me on for public relations, but then taught me marketing so now I have that skill set.
Now that you know my timeline of events, let's backtrack to the original point about making connections. That first connection back at community college set me on a journey through just one simple person and a stellar recommendation. That recommendation then lead to my newspaper positions which then added both of my editors as new connections and recommendations and the process continued. I now have many connections both from fellow employees, my bosses and simply those I had worked with, all because
I took the first step in making ONE single connection--side note: all of these connections were made while in college and the year after graduation. You do not need to be in the workforce for years to acquire connections and sometimes it is best to start as early as possible.
Take this a step further and let's discuss the opportunities I didn't get, but that I still made sure to gather connections. Although my list of work seems extensive, there were companies that did not feel I was a right fit for their work or mission--and that's perfectly fine. While some may storm out, I at least tried to keep some direct contact with a worker. The best ones were always the HR representatives in my case or administrative assistant--as they would always send me links for opportunities at other companies because I had gone out of my way to be friendly while interviewing and they wanted to help me even if I was not a chosen hire.
I add any contacts on Linkedin and make sure to stay in touch. It doesn't matter whether or not a company wanted you, it is still good practice to stay in good graces with those you meet as you never know what they can offer.
This is just a condensed version of the five-plus years I invested into myself to make sure I was not just sitting around and waiting for people to find me to be special. Sometimes, you need to put yourself other there and make your own sales pitch--not about a company, but about YOURSELF.
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