Networking is an essential tool to the success and advancement of any individual in the present job market. It is also a resource that anyone has the ability to use to build personal and thoughtful interactions.
While everyone has a network (their family, friends, employers and alumni from the University), there is always room for network expansion. The goal is to make it work, to apply these relationships to the real world and to allow them to assist in getting that job or that internship.
“The best way to network if you don’t know people, or even if you do, is to ask for an informational interview,” said Alison Gaulden, Reynolds School internship coordinator and lecturer. “An informational interview is about 30 minutes. Ideally, you meet with them in person over coffee; some folks will do it over the phone, but when you do this, you talk to them and interview them about how you get into the field that you want to get into.”
Both Vancour and Gaulden agreed that in a successful informational interview, students should not plan to ask favors but should, rather, focus on cultivating a relationship. Cultivating a relationship will also be most successful if students focus on using rapport talk instead of report talk.
As defined in the nonfiction novel “You Just Don’t Understand” by Deborah Tannen, rapport talk is a type of communication where there is consideration of emotional connection, and report talk focuses on the exchange of information without acknowledging emotions.
“Shift the idea from not asking or needing something all the time, but just having a collection of people that you’re connected to professionally who may come in handy one day or that you may lend a helping hand to,” said Vanessa Vancour, editor of Noticiero Móvil at the Reynolds School.
“You need to build relationships; it’s like dating,” Gaulden said. “It’s really about getting to know them and talking to them… you want to ask thoughtful questions that help you get to know the person.”
Gaulden suggested asking these questions, “What’s the best part of your job? Why do you still do this after 20 years? What advice do you have for someone like me, who is just getting started?”
Being able to ask these questions early on in one’s journalism career is beneficial to keeping strong connections to a network.
“Ideally you should be networking while you’re a student so that way when you graduate you have a network of people you can call upon,” Vancour said.