Ever since I started taking journalism classes at MSU, I’ve heard about the importance of making connections with other people in the journalism world. It’s something that I’ve continued to hear when having guest speakers come into my classes, when listening to my professors’ stories about their journalism-related experiences and when talking to my peers who have already obtained internships.
Last week, John Hill, vice president of network for Techstars, talked in my media entrepreneurship class at MSU. He talked a lot about making connections and networking in the industry. Hill also helped higher education use LinkedIn to an aggregated audience, to engage with university alumni and connect those who attended the same university with each other.
When he talked to my class about the different ways in which you can use LinkedIn, I was personally shocked. Although I have a LinkedIn profile, I’m ashamed to say I don’t really use it very often. I had no idea that you could filter results to find people with specific careers in specific locations with specific focuses. This tool could be helpful to me and some of my classmates in the near future if we are looking to reach out to people who have a similar job to the one we aspire to have.
Hill also talked about how to go about reaching out to people. He said—when reaching out to people for career advice— to try to talk to them face-to-face or over the phone rather than via email or instant messaging. One thing that stuck out to me was when he said to put ourselves in their shoes: If a senior in high school interested in attending MSU for journalism was reaching out to us for advice, would we feel bothered or reluctant to talk to them? Probably not. We would most likely want to help that person, provide them with helpful advice and talk about our own experiences. As Hill and many other people have said: People love to talk about themselves.
It was really helpful to hear about making connections, reaching out to professionals and utilizing LinkedIn to its full capacity. The importance of making connections with others was definitely reiterated to me during Hill’s talk.
Julianne Pepitone, a freelance journalist who has previously worked for CNNMoney and NBC News, also Skyped into class last week. She talked a lot about her experiences covering business-related topics and how she moved on to freelancing.
It was interesting hearing about freelancing. I’ve never considered freelancing as a career because it’s something I don’t actually know much about. I haven’t heard a lot about it in my journalism classes, so it was really informative to hear about it in this class. And who better to talk about it than Pepitone, a freelancer herself. Pepitone has been able to write with a lot of clients as a freelancer. I thought it was so cool that she has been able to have her bylines featured in several different publications and that she has been able to write about such a variety of topics.
Something that stuck with me from Pepitone’s conversation was when she talked about being hardworking—she has never missed a deadline and has never pulled out of an obligation during her career. She also emphasized the importance of being hardworking and dedicated.
In addition to talking about her experience with being a reporter and freelancer, Pepitone also talked about the importance of simply being kind and thankful to those you work with. She said, although it seems like a self-explanatory thing, it is really helpful to just be nice to people. This also goes back to the importance of making connections in the industry. She said a lot of the clients she gets as a freelancer now came from connections she had made when she was a reporter at CNN Money or NBC News. That was really refreshing to hear because, as I was sitting in the classroom, I realized how many people I have met and befriended in the MSU School of Journalism, at The State News and beyond. As Hill mentioned in his talk, the connections you make can lead to more branches of connections.
It was really helpful to hear about Hills’ and Pepitone’s experiences, and I will definitely be thinking about and using what they discussed as advice.