Fearless Tips: Avoid Networking Fails in College

Madalyn Chau / February 21, 2017

Our new Power of Networking series will address three categories: networking success stories at Fearey, networking tips from Fearey and how Fearey networks. Keep reading to hear assistant account executive Madalyn Chau’s tips for successful networking.

We hear it repeatedly throughout life: the power of networking will open doors for you. This couldn’t be more true for me. Fresh out of college my resume looked sparse, a few internships but no “real” experience. I met many people during college who were more than willing to help me, teach me the ropes or connect me to the right people, but I hadn’t yet mastered the art of networking. The transition from school to real world wasn’t easy for me. I didn’t quite understand the importance or how to take advantage of networking, even after having several worthy opportunities and experiences that encouraged success.

I am still a student of effective networking, but after landing my position at The Fearey Group, by way of a well-timed introduction, I have a few ideas that could help prepare you for the job hunt. Here are five tips to avoid failing at networking.

1. Being PROACTIVE gets you fed, literally. 

If you’ve never been to a networking event and don’t know where to start, I encourage you to speak to your PR professors or advisers to see if there are events in which students can participate. To get ahead, you must be proactive, start waking up at 5 a.m. to make that 7 a.m. networking breakfast event. Yes, it’s early, but remember, this is where professionals from the community go to engage with others in the industry before their 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. shifts.

2. Collect business cards the smart way.

It’s easy to end up with a stack of business cards after a networking event, but they’re only useful if you know how to use them. Write notes on the back of the card about what you talked about to reference later and then actually reach out (something I did not do) and develop a relationship.

I was typically pretty anxious and nervous going to these events, but my confidence grew with each introduction. The engagement was crucial in my growth as a future public relations professional because I learned how to break down barriers.

3. Build a deeper, more meaningful connection.

A few professionals I met through networking events wanted to follow my journey to England for grad school. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow through. Thinking back, I bet I would have developed some awesome relationships had I nourished professional relationships for when I finished grad school and came back to the states. I kept those relationships at surface level and didn’t understand the power of nurturing those relationships.

My mistake can be your treasure. Follow through and challenge yourself to have a deeper connection with people you meet, especially those who are working at agencies you aspire to join after graduation. Don’t just talk business, get personal – invite someone for coffee.

4. Prioritize quality over quantity. 

Human interaction is a part of daily life and can enhance your career tremendously. It’s important to think strategically about which relationships you should foster. You exchange cards with someone and then what? Often, we tuck business cards away and miss out on opportunities. After grad school, when I stopped tucking business cards away, doors opened to The Fearey Group.

Meet people but prioritize and invest your energy in a few key players. Think about the people you can learn from or vice versa, who are in a similar industry, or someone with whom you enjoy speaking or spending time. Opportunities will come.

My college PR professor and PRSSA adviser is still my mentor. I often reached out to her for advice and guidance. I created a two-way street, learning from her as she became deeply invested in my success and career. I can still send her cover letters, my resume or even work samples to proofread and she’ll send me feedback right away.

5. Be confident in your conversations within your network and build connections outside your network. 

Before I knew what type of PR environment I wanted to work in, I often would have candid conversations with people in my network about what I enjoyed and was good at. People would say, ‘I know this person in ABC industry, do you want me to connect or send you their contact information?’

That’s how I got my introduction to The Fearey Group! My dad’s client is a client of The Fearey Group. My dad connected us, we met and had a positive vibe, she introduced me to the CEO and the interviewing process began.

My advice to undergrads – start networking now! Start building lasting relationships, connections and friends! These five tips can help you nourish your network more effectively during college and make for a smoother transition after college.

Did you find this blog interesting or helpful? Comment below and let us know what you think. Subscribe to The Fearey Channel to get our latest thoughts.