Networking is a verb. Anyone in business will tell you the importance of networking – but it’s all just talk until you actually get out and start doing it!
Last night, my colleague and fellow BC alumni Jason Fidler and I attended a “Speed Networking” event put on by the Boston Chapter of the Boston College Alumni Association that was quite different from any networking event I’d previously attended. Read more…
With approximately 1,706,000 students at the bachelor’s degree level projected to graduate in 2012, there are a plethora of young professionals who are about to begin their job search and enter the workforce. But, with lingering economic woes from the 2008 financial crisis and heightened unemployment rates, many will be looking for creative ways to jump start their career. Using your college’s alumni network is a great place to start, and, as Boston College alumnus, I’m always willing to share advice with up and coming Eagles as they embark on their career paths. Read more…
Recently I was reminiscing about a great experience I had hearing the late Tim Russert speak at Boston College back in 2005. Tim Russert gave accounts of his most memorable interviews, his political ploys, and endearing tales of his father from his book, Big Russ. His comments were very inspiring and helpful, as he dropped advice for good journalism throughout his stories.
He spoke about how it is extremely important in everything, but especially in journalism, to be prepared and knowledgeable about the issues and your guest, when conducting an interview. Tim Russert commented on how many politicians have a set script that they recite to the media of their stance on the issues, but this script can also be vague and leave out important points. Tim Russert’s job was to pick out these points and corner his guest into giving an answer, oftentimes, an answer he or she didn’t want to give. This, he said, is part of a journalist’s responsibility to their audience. A journalist must attempt to get all the facts and as much information as he or she can because knowledge is a power to which everyone has the right.
Among all these facts, however, it is sometimes hard to see the big picture. Tim Russert acknowledged this difficulty, but said it is important to speak to the big issues and not get caught up in all the tiny details. He said that law school really helped him acquire this skill, which he was able to use to help educate his audience.
In addition to seeing the main issue, Russert said it’s up to the journalist to determine which issues are news worthy. Understanding your audience is an important factor in this decision because what may seem news worthy to you may not be as relevant to your viewers. A journalist must show people why that subject is worth learning something about, all the while being completely objective. It is not a journalist’s job to tell people what to believe, but rather, to tell people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds on the issue.
In dealing with politics and politicians on Meet the Press, Tim Russert had to not only be objective, but bipartisan as well, no matter which political party he represented. Being objective and bipartisan are two limitations of a journalist that he talked a lot about, but there are ethical limitations as well. A journalist must take into account how a story will affect his or her audience. Based on good judgment, a journalist must decide if a story would negatively or positively affect the quality of life of the audience.
A journalist gains an audience based, in part, on his or her credibility and one would think that if a mistake is made, the journalist’s credibility would diminish. However, Tim Russert assed that a mistake can only be detrimental to ones credibility if it is not dealt with properly. He advised that journalists and networks should admit to their mistakes immediately and offer an apology saying it would never happen again and that this kind of statement can actually increase ones credibility by making them seem more human and humble.
Tim Russert’s insights into the world of journalism captivated his audience while providing information about his profession and all the things he has to take into consideration when preparing for an episode of Meet the Press. He was a fabulous speaker and even better journalist, one I count myself lucky to have had the pleasure to meet while he was still living.
How many of us really understand our company to the point where we can establish a connection with someone, learn what they do, and find a way to insert our services into their market, all in about one minute? This elevator pitch, as it’s so appropriately named for its short duration, is a skilled technique that requires mastering your company, services, and market inside and out.
While elevator pitches rarely occur in an elevator, I recently found myself in just that situation! At a Boston College alumni networking event at the Boston College Club yesterday, I had 36 floors to meet my fellow elevator passenger, find out what he did and who he worked for, tell him how my company and I could be of help, and provide him with a means to get in touch with me and me him. Success!
So what makes this so difficult? It’s easy to delve into the reasons your company is a fit for a new client over coffee or a long lunch, but in an elevator, you have to get right to the point, be concise, and make an impact. As brevity is something so many of us struggle with (though thanks to Twitter, many of my emails are now less than 140 characters), I am reminded of Mark Twain’s letter in which he wrote, “I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter.”
Twain had it right – it does take more time to make things short and sweet. But when you suddenly find yourself in an elevator facing a prospective client, time slips right out the window (that is if you’re lucky enough to have windows in your elevator). That’s when your knowledge base and experience comes into play. It is essential to know your company and industry inside and out – so much so that when a new market presents itself, you can be creative enough to see how your company can fit in with it and offer your services in a new way.
Definitely a challenging experience that keeps you on your toes, but a very worthwhile technique to master! And now you know where you can find me on my lunch breaks… riding the elevators, perfecting this skill.