By Kristen Garafano
You’ve heard it time and time again: Networking is essential to a successful career. But keeping in touch with former bosses can be daunting. Should you email or call? Ask for advice over coffee or lunch? Sometimes, the problem is simply not knowing who to reach out to in the first place. Instead of agonizing over who to send your next email to, consider a new group of people—friends, even—you’re overlooking just because they’re not in the magazine industry. There’s plenty of good that can come out of networking with friends in other industries.
Your friend’s company may have a department that suits you. One of my oldest friends majored in chemical engineering in college and now she works for an amazing brand that—surprise!—requires copywriters and social media managers (in addition to engineers like her). Check in with your friends in marketing, sales, human resources or branding to find out if the companies they work for are actively seeking someone to manage their social media accounts, create content for their website or newsletters. If the answer turns out to be yes, you can ask your friend for a referral.
It’s easier to discuss your goals with your BFFs. It can be difficult to open up about your long-term goals and dreams, especially with people you don’t know that well. No matter how unattainable your dream job might sound right now, your friends always have your back and are there to support you.
They may know someone who then knows someone else. You know that whole six degrees of separation concept? It’s a real thing. The connection you’re looking for may not be right in front of you, but instead through your friend’s co-worker’s mom. Maybe they are related to a senior editor at your favorite magazine or have a friend who knows the CEO of your dream company. Ask friends to put you in touch with their friends and see where those conversations go.
You might be able to help them, too. Even if your friend doesn’t have any solid connections to help you out at the moment, you can definitely keep an eye out for her. Check your company’s job board to see if anything sounds like a fit for your friend—even if it’s outside your department. If they do end up landing the position, you’ll have a friend who can introduce you to a whole new network.
Your friends know you better than anyone else. The friends who’ve been by your side since your awkward phase in middle school can help you out in a way newer friends might not. They know your interests, passions and the type of work culture you’d thrive in. Seek out their advice the next time you get drinks. Even if they don’t have a connection to offer, they might help you realize what you need to do to reach your next goal.
Kristen Garafano is an editor and blogger from NJ who has interned at Seventeen and written for Elite Daily. In her spare time, she loves to hike, do yoga, and hang out with her 2 cats. Check out her blog Kristence for more career, beauty, and lifestyle articles and follow her on Instagram.