How often have you heard the phrase “it’s who you know not what you know?” If I had a pound for every time I had heard it I wouldn’t need a job at all.
It seems to be a journalist’s catchphrase and one could quite easily get a job on the back of his contacts rather than his skill or reputation. But that isn’t always so easy for someone who has been in education for three or more years without the chance to make any contacts.
However, there is always a starting point and more often than not the tutors at your University or training course are working or former journalists with bulging contact books of their own, so tap in to it.
Not recognising the importance of networking while I was at Uni is my biggest regret of the three years I spent there. I took a cynical view on one particular fellow student who had a good working relationship with one of our tutors, who worked on the Sunday Express. I preferred to keep my distance from the tutors outside of class and stuck to my work, labelling my class mate a “teacher’s pet” as she went for drinks with them. After Uni who do you think got a job blogging for the Express’ website, me or her?
Sometimes all you need is a foot in the door to get you started and for those of us who are new to the industry that foot isn’t always going to be yours. Don’t be afraid to take help from others and use their contacts as a bridge to get you to where you want to be.
Interacting in the right circles and getting to know like-minded people is of huge importance to an amateur journalist. But for some people it can be difficult. Striking up a conversation in a crowded room of people you don’t know can be daunting, it definitely is for me.
Luckily enough, however, networking extends to the comfort of your computer as well and an online presence is just as necessary. Where else but Twitter can you converse directly with editors of national newspapers? By contributing regularly to media circles online, whether through twitter or commenting on blogs, you are able to promote yourself and put your name out there.
It’s easier to be yourself in the comfort of your own home and for shy retiring types like me and Joseph Stashko it can be just as rewarding.
Make sure you contribute regularly to the areas that interest you, don’t just sit there plugging your own blog (something even I can be guilty of at times). Comment on others works and interact in a friendly way and who knows what can come from it.
Finally take a look at these networking tips for some further pointers on the art of networking. Tune in tomorrow for more What To Do Next Tips as we look the need for a portfolio.