By: Briea Curington — Contributor
After spending four years in college and coming out seemingly unscathed, I have learned one very important lesson: networking is crucial.
Four years ago, I was a bright-eyed freshman in a new city, hundreds of miles away from home. In the midst of missing the only surrounding that I ever knew, I was trying to adjust to my new environment and find my own way. I went into college knowing that I wanted to end up in the marketing or PR field. However, I always felt that I wanted to be known for my hard work and determination, not the contacts I could read off a rolodex. As my college years went on and graduation was rearing its ugly head, I finally saw the true importance of networking and speaking to different professionals in the industry. For me, I did not want it to seem as if I were resting on my laurels and relying on my personality for a career breakthrough.
The biggest thing to remember is your ability to network does not undermine your academic success; it is a supplement to help you get your foot through the door. I can reflect on those times and say I often was so consumed with homework and projects that I did not make the most of each situation. I could have stayed longer at an information session. I should have shaken just a few more hands at a workshop. Had I done those things, I may have had better luck finding an entry-level position to suit my interests.
I had to learn the hard way that it is better to take advantage of the opportunities that are staring you in the face. If you are like me, and having a hard time finding your voice and networking with others, I have included the following three tips.
1) Be kind to the unlikeliest of people.
You never know whom you are riding in the elevator with or who is standing in line in front of you. The CEO of a Fortune 500 company could be getting a haircut next to you. Always remain courteous and on your p’s and q’s. Develop your 60-second pitch and be ready to recite it at all times. The person you are speaking to could be your next interviewer.
In a room full of professionals, be sure to get their business card and hand them yours. It is important to leave them with something in writing so they can refer back to it. You do not know how many times they will flip through papers on their desk, run across your card, and remember a particular conversation. There could be a vacancy for a full-time position/internship and, because they see your card, they can inform you about it.
Even if you spoke for a brief minute, email them and let them know that you enjoyed the time they spent speaking with you. Just that extra step will go a long way. They will appreciate your dedication and possibly even email you in the future. As you may be gearing up to enter the workforce (with an unemployment rate that doesn’t seem to be taking a nosedive as quickly as we all would like), you need to make sure to market yourself at all times possible. Your resume can only say so much. Sell yourself and the skills with which you are capable. Get your name out there to ensure your success.
A graduate from North Carolina A&T State University, Briea Curington has emerged as a talented public relations professional ready to take the world on by storm. With the help of internship and freelance positions, she has been given the opportunity to nurture her interest in PR and Marketing by working with various types of clients. Ultimately, she hopes to continue learning and growing and eventually land her dream job as a fashion publicist for a high-end, luxury fashion brand. In addition to her work as a publicist, she is a fashion writer with her own blog as well as guest contributor for other sites, such as Glamazonsblog.com and TheJasmineBrand.com. For a closer glimpse into her world, you may visit http://www.putting-the-eye-in-fashion.tumblr.com or catch her on twitter @BriCurington.