Networking is one of those things we all know we ought to do, but the thought of it fills us with dread. And if you’re new to the industry, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s a list of a few things I’ve learnt while trying to make new contacts.
Go to an event
This sounds easy enough but you’re not going to stumble into that great opportunity by slobbing on the couch and watching endless episodes of Breaking Bad, are you? It doesn’t have to be specifically labelled as a ‘networking event’ either. Open lectures and debates, film screenings and casual meet-ups all present great opportunities to meet new people. And if you find that you simply don’t hear about such events, sign up to a few newsletters and make sure you follow all the right people on Twitter. Following @journalismnews is a great place to start.
Take a friend
‘Safety in numbers’ definitely applies here. I’ve been to a couple of networking events on my own and the temptation to stand in the corner, endlessly refresh my Twitter feed and hope other people will come and talk to me is overwhelming. Take a friend and you’ll already have someone else to talk to when a contact you’ve made goes to get another drink, or wanders off because they’ve decided you’re not interesting enough to carry on talking to. And it’s so much easier to approach that producer from the BBC with a trusty sidekick…
Although you’re probably at a networking event to sell yourself a little bit and see what opportunities there are for you, don’t spend the whole time talking about yourself. So many people are doing amazing things within the world of journalism and a networking event is a great place to learn all about them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more intuitive and engaged you are, the more you’ll be remembered.
Even if you’re still looking for a job, it’s worth investing in some personal business cards. Scrap pieces of paper with random names and numbers on can easily be lost in coat jackets or mistaken for rubbish and thrown away. People take care of business cards. You can usually find some good deals on Moo or Vistaprint and you’ll only need between 50 and 100 cards for starters.
Know your limits
This one applies to alcohol. Many of these events will take place in a bar or involve some sort of alcoholic refreshment. Sometimes, the alcohol is even free. Hurray! But here’s the golden rule: Don’t drink too much. The last thing you want is to be known as that one young’un who had one drink too many and ended up spouting a load of nonsense as everyone around you stared at the floor willing you to shut up. Know your limits and stick to them. Or just have lemonade.
This post originally appeared on Wannabe Hacks.