Love it or hate it, networking’s a big part of making it in this industry—the more people you know, the more word-of-mouth jobs you’ll find out about. So how do you expand your network? Gain amazing contacts and, more importantly, learn how to keep them, with these dos and don’ts:
• DO attend as many industry events that you can, like Ed’s happy hours! Everyone’s there for the same purpose, so it’s an easy way to connect with people with at least one similar interest. But while you’re there, don’t focus on making friends in high places. “The people who wind up helping you down the line may be at your level when you first meet them,” says Meredith Bodgas, Senior Editor at WomansDay.com, so if you’re an intern, talk with other interns, and if you’re an EA, talk with other EAs.
• DON’T hesitate to contact people you don’t know. Send cold e-mails to editors you admire at your favorite magazines, especially at the associate level and below. “Ask to meet for 15 minutes in their offices or at coffee shops while talking about what they do at their current magazines and how they got there,” says Cheryl Brody, Director of Newhouse NYC. “Editors rarely get requests like this, so they’ll usually write you back if they’re not swamped.”
• DO set up informal gatherings with your co-workers, their friends, and their friend’s friends. “Getting to know someone in a casual setting like that can feel more organic—and is often more fun—than awkwardly introducing yourself repeatedly at networking events,” says Stephanie Pfeffer, Editor at People.
Hitting it off
• DO talk about things other than the industry. “Chat about a shared hometown, your upcoming weddings, a love of Broadway, and anything else that will forge a memorable connection,” says Pfeffer. Bonus: You’ll have more fodder for future e-mail exchanges and conversations.
• DON’T shove your resume in someone’s face at casual meetings. “The person you meet will think you’re only interested in what she can do for you,” says Bodgas. “Sending your resume is fine—after you establish a friendship,” she adds.
• DON’T think of it as networking. “If you do, you’ll probably just try to say what you think the editor wants to hear, instead of making friends,” says Brody. “Just be yourself and relax (without being too relaxed!).”
Keeping in touch
• DO send hand-written thank you notes to editors who accept your requests for informational interviews (whether over coffee or in-office), and send e-mails to people you meet at networking events soon after to say it was nice meeting them. Be sure to mention something that you talked about that night to refresh her memory—she probably talked to dozens of other people at that event.
• DO e-mail every few months. Update your contacts when you have news, like a new job or writing assignment, but don’t forget to ask about what’s going on in their lives, too! And use these e-mails as an opportunity to not only find out about openings at their magazines, but also about what their workplaces are like. Having the inside scoop on offices (Are the editors friendly? Are the hours sane?) will prove valuable to you when there are openings.
• DON’T be pushy. It’s common sense, but you may not even realize when you cross the line. “I met someone who shot me the requisite ‘nice meeting you’ e-mail, which was appreciated,” says Bodgas, “but her next two e-mails to me were demanding. Even though I hardly knew her, she said, ‘I need your help right now!’ She thanked me after each of my responses, but I didn’t like having deadlines to give her advice!”
The bottom line
“You can be an amazing writer or editor, but if someone else who’s equally talented applies for the same job as you and knows someone at the magazine, she’ll have the edge,” says Brody. “There are so many smart people trying to make it as magazine editors. Knowing other editors is a way to stand out.”