Megan Duncan, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Fall 2015 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the prompt: "We’ve all heard the old phrase, ‘It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.’ While the importance of networking has stayed consistent, the ways in which we network and market ourselves to employers and clients are constantly changing and adapting to shifts in the market, industry and generational trend. What networking tactics do you think are most effective in achieving professional success today? Looking forward 5 or 10 years, what changes in networking trends do you expect to see as Millennials establish a stronger presence in the workforce?”
“Don't burn bridges; build them.” While this saying may be one of the most cliché in the book, this is crucial for networking. One of the most important aspects of networking is maintaining a positive image, and building productive relationships with people takes precedence. Strong internet presence, intentionality with people, and career drive are three important tactics in successful marketing today.
Internet image is an increasingly important aspect of modern-day networking. With LinkedIn providing a hybrid of resume with social media connections, it is easy for companies to access your basic career information. However, connections on Facebook, Instagram, and various other social networking sites can also prove powerfully effective or destructive. One’s presence on these sites can make or break their networking opportunities. Awareness of one’s Internet presence is a necessary starting point to effective marketing. Additionally, if you are in a creative field, websites are another necessity for self-marketing clout. If your portfolio is not online, your chances as networking well are slim. The ideal situation is for your online presence to enhance a potential employer’s perspective of you, and to give them helpful, rather than harmful, information about your life.
However, as time progresses, I can see networking continuing to progress into an Internet-centered activity. People’s perceptions of “knowing” one another via social media connections will help take networking to a level of digital trust higher than before. Social media interactions will become just as crucial as face-to-face interactions when it comes to getting your foot in the industry door. I also foresee an increase of networking events focused around different lifestyles and invigorating activities, as Millennials have been infusing work/life balance as an important aspect of successful companies.
Social media is nothing without actual relationships. A tried-and-true tactic to networking revolves around the idea that anyone you meet in your field could potentially help you out one day. Whether you meet at career events, during internships, friends-of-friends, or even out just grabbing a bite—every bridge could be one worth building. It is important to be intentional in these relationships. Put effort into knowing who the other person is. Learn more about what they do specifically, what motivates them, and what is going on in their life. Genuinely placing value upon the other person will help them place value upon you. Maintaining these friendships can eventually wind up at open career doors, so do not burn these bridges. You never know how closely-knit your industry is; don't give people a reason to speak poorly of you. Finally, career drive is the core necessity to good networking. If you are passionate about what you are doing, it will help people perceive you in a productive and driven way. Be bold when meeting people, and don't be afraid to take risks on career opportunities. Showing this hard-working pursuit of excellence will help you be noticed when you are networking.
Megan is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Advertising & Multimedia Design.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.