Mckenna Ross

The importance of networking and being nice

Talent is important to success in media. So is hard work. But, as I’ve realized this week, they’re not the only things that can make or break your career.

When John Hill, the vice president of networks for the startup launcher Techstars, spoke to my journalism class at Michigan State, he emphasized the power in networking. Hill, who used to run the alumni network at MSU then later worked for LinkedIn, highlighted the ability to move your career forward through who you know.

Now, this might seem like a cheat. But that’s not the case. Even if you know how to network, you still have to be a diligent, hardworking person to secure a position. Knowing people is just a way to get your name to rise up in all the noise.

Hill’s advice on using LinkedIn to expand your network was a perfect example of this. Using the alumni function, he showed our class how to find people in a city or company that you may want to work for based on the people you know. You can then reach out to them and ask about their experiences and any advice they may have.

That conversation, coffee date or email exchange makes you noticeable. If your new contact hears of a position opening, they can vouch for you during the hiring process. Needless to say, that’s incredibly helpful to your success.

That advice has worked for me in the past. Several summers ago, I noticed the Capitol reporter from the Miami Herald was an MSU alumna. I cold-emailed her, asking for advice on being a college journalist. She responded with deep advice and told me about her experiences at a different Florida newspaper, The Palm Beach Post. She recommended the internship program to me and months later, during my interview, I mentioned her name.

Hours later, she DM’s me on Twitter: “Got an email just now from (the breaking news editor) at the Palm Beach Post asking about you! Good sign! 😉 Good luck in your internship search!”

That was so surprising to me to know they did a reference check beyond the ones I listed on my application — I hadn’t even worked with Kristen. But my editor valued my tenaciousness and curiosity, and that ultimately got me the position.

My journalism class also had the chance to speak with freelance journalist Julianne Pepitone. When we asked her about how to keep a successful business going, juggle multiple assignments and overall be a freelancer, she emphasized kindness.

She consistently said being friendly to editors, thanking them for the opportunity and explaining why you enjoyed the assignment and being kind and available can go a long way. Journalism is such a people-centric career and yet some writers can forget that. Pepitone said if we are kind and conscious in all of our communication, we can make work for everyone involved a lot easier.

Both of those lessons are so important to growth in a career. Take the steps to meet more people, get all the advice you can get and be nice, and you may see major success.

3 thoughts on “The importance of networking and being nice

  1. Your idea is great. I also think it’s important to keep good faith at all times. When I keep goodwill, most people keep goodwill towards me, too. I am very grateful to those who are tolerant and kind to me. I am an international student. In this strange country, I have met many people with good intentions. Their kindness keeps me happy.

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  2. i really agree with your opinion that “using LinkedIn to expand your network was a perfect example of this. Using the alumni function.” Talents and hard working is important and irreplaceable, but networking would help things more efficient. We only have limited time to do certain things, if expanding networking could help us to achieve faster, why not? Also, I think the networking itself is a outcome/ an evidence of our hardworking. I think we should definitely use LinkedIn wisely.

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  3. You are completely right about your dedication to being nice. As journalists, and really just as aspiring professionals, we really do need to be committed to each and every impression we make. As helpful as tools like LinkedIn are, making real human contact with your network is essential and can really pay off – something that you experienced first hand when applying for that position. Congratulations on that, by the way! I think that the most important thing we can do in order to find success is to be kind and fearless – if we are willing to reach out to anyone in search of advice, we can achieve anything. And, with an alumni network like MSU’s, there is no excuse not to reach out to as many people as possible.

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