Play the Networking Game, But Play it Your Way

Thomas Martino
Play the Networking Game, But Play it Your Way

This is a guest post by Gabriela Szewcow for Student Stories. 

When I graduated from college a little over a year ago, I was resistant to the idea of networking.

Sure, I knew how to do it and I knew it had to be done. But it made me uncomfortable. Why had I worked so hard and been so involved if none of it would matter unless I knew someone who knew someone? Eventually, I got over this notion and realized that I simply had to play the networking game. It didn’t happen right away, but I eventually got to play it my way, and this is how it happened.

I finished up classes a semester early, but hung around to spend time with friends and make some money while applying for jobs. I had a few freelance jobs, but I spent most of my days nannying for a nice couple who adopted two young girls from Guatemala. We spent our days eating snacks, doing Spanish homework and watching lots of My Little Pony. Over time, I discovered that their father Mark was the VP of a PR Agency in the area. He offered to look over my resume and cover letter and to connect me with people he knew in the communications industry. He was extremely helpful and I will forever be grateful for the time he took to help me out. One day, he off-handedly mentioned that the President of my university had a brother who was the CEO of a great agency in New York City. Mark mentioned that I should talk to President Lambert about his brother. I thought, “Sure, Mark, let me just drop a line to the President of my school.” But that’s exactly what I did.
At a small event a few weeks before graduation, I found myself in a circle of a few students, chatting with President Lambert about studying abroad. I seized the opportunity to talk to him about his brother and his agency, and followed up a few days later with an email. The President was instantly responsive, and even provided me with his brother’s contact information. I set up an informational phone call with President Lambert’s brother, Luke. At that time, I had no idea what I was talking about. I’m sure I asked him naive and juvenile questions on the phone, because I was so shocked that the CEO had taken the time to speak with me on the phone.

After a writing test, a handful of interviews and lots of nagging phone calls and emails, I am now employed at that agency as a Junior Account Executive in New York City. Come June, I will have been here for one year. Moving to New York is a story in and of itself, and I’m so grateful for the people who have made the move possible. I would not have moved here without the security of a job, and that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Mark, President Lambert and Luke. I’m still blown away that three busy guys took the time to help me in my search for a career.

Networking can be uncomfortable if you aren’t willing to sell yourself and ask for help. It’s not a fun or easy game to play, unless you bend the rules a little bit and make it work your way.

About the Author:

Gabriela graduated from Elon University in 2013, where she studied Print and Online Journalism. Today, she resides in Brooklyn, New York and works in Midtown, Manhattan at a PR Agency. You can follow her on Twitter.