By Lauren Saxe
Social media is no longer just for silly selfies and picturesque sunsets. The public platforms have enabled more global connection than ever, and people have gotten crafty with their networking styles. That’s right, networking. Say sayonara to stiff emails that, more often than not, go unanswered. Give your networking game a modern makeover with advice from the editors on the other side of the screen, and the young guns who’ve made them take notice.
ADVICE FROM THE EDITORS:
If you just stumbled upon an editor or only want to reach out based on their title and not their work, they’ll see right through it. Be sure to contact writers and editors that you’re truly a fan of. Or, if you haven’t followed their career forever but want to get to know more, at least do your homework first.
“If you’re reaching out to editors on social media — whether you’re pitching or networking — please do a quick Google search,” says Danielle Tullo, Snapchat Editor at Cosmopolitan.
Although the power of social media has made the networking sphere more casual, for better and for worse, being professional is still a key ingredient to a successful comment or DM.
“Messages that say, ‘I’ve been following you since you started as an Editorial Assistant at Cosmo and thought it was cool how you transitioned from ‘Cosmo Bites’ to Cosmo’s Snapchat,’ go a lot farther than ‘Working at Cosmo looks so fun because of all your pictures! How can I get your job?’” says Tullo.
In addition to doing your research about the individual, take a minute to think about why it is you want to talk to them specifically.
“Why do you want to learn from me in particular? Do you like my writing style? Do you want to build a similar following?” says Olivia Muenter, Fashion & Beauty Editor at Bustle. “Be specific and clear when reaching out. It’s obvious when people are just reaching out to any/every person in a job they would want.”
Go the Extra Mile
While social media is a quicker, more fun way to get in touch with an editor, once you’ve established a bit of a rapport with them, make sure to follow up a little more formally.
“I love a good caffeine break, so I ask them to shoot me an email to find a time that works. Moving things to email lets me know the person is serious about networking, and keeps it a bit more professional,” says Tullo.
If an editor has hundreds of thousands of followers, you may have to get a little more creative when it comes to a comment or DM.
“People often make Lucie Fink Instagram fan accounts and that always commands my attention,” says Lucie Fink, Video Producer and Lifestyle Host at Refinery29. “I’m honored when I see that they’ve spent so much time making a video or creating an original photo to share on their fan page. I also tend to follow fan pages back even though I don’t follow individual fans back, so some people make these pages hoping I’ll follow!”
If fangirling isn’t your style, try responding to an editor looking for new recommendations or opinions on something they posted about.
“Sometimes people will reply my Instagram stories when I’m asking for book suggestions or if I post a picture of a new Starbucks drink, saying they want to try that too,” says Tullo.“It makes the conversation completely genuine, and we have something in common to discuss. From there the conversation seems much less forced!”
WHIPPERSNAPPERS IT WORKED FOR:
Whippersnapper: Greg Gottfried, Digital Intern at Scholastic’s New York Times Upfront and Board Operator at CBS Sports Radio
Who he connected with: Jonah Bromwich, General Assignment Reporter with The New York Times’s breaking news team
A self-proclaimed Twitter fiend, Greg Gottfried is constantly cracking jokes and composing witty comments on the popular social network. Lucky for him, his humor often paid off. When Jonah Bromwich, a New York Times writer, was working on a piece about Millennials, he took to the Twittersphere for some inspiration. Unsure of what to call this new generation, Bromwich turned to Twitter for the answer.
“I responded with ‘Greg,’ which in turn relatively blew up on social media (because social media is an insane wasteland),” says Gottfried.
With 100 likes and 11,000 impressions, the tweet caught Bromwich’s attention. Next thing you know, the New York Times reporter slides into Gottfried’s DMs with a message:
“’Hey Greg — I’m getting your joke into the folio (unless my editor cuts it) and was hoping you could tell me your age, whether Gottfried is your actual name, and what you do for NYT Upfront.’”
Though he didn’t make it into the story, he came out of the situation with something even more valuable: a connection.
“I ended up being cut from the story, but not before tweeting back, ‘Also, if you ever have time to talk journalism and working for the NYT, I would love to pick your brain a little,'” says Gottfried. The two are still working out a coffee date, but they have Twitter to thank for their connection.
Whippersnapper: Lindsay Moore, Freelance Journalist
Who she connected with: Olivia Nuzzi, Washington Correspondent at New York Magazine
While email can sometimes seem archaic, done correctly it still packs a punch! During the journalist’s sophomore year at Indiana University, Lindsay Moore took a social media course where students were assigned follower goals that they would be graded on weekly. In order to up their followers and reach their desired numbers, they were encouraged to interact with professional journalists on a more regular basis. One assignment was to find a social media role model.
“I chose Olivia Nuzzi who was a political writer at The Daily Beast. I loved that Olivia’s tweets were both informational and personable. It felt like I was getting my news from a friend who was both well informed and also ready to dish the hottest gossip on Washington insiders,” explains Moore.
But the assignment didn’t come without a little bit of nerves. Moore was nervous about reaching out via direct message and she knew she would probably be ignored. Instead, she opted for good old-fashioned email.
“My subject line literally read ‘A Note From Your #1 Twitter Follower,’” says Moore. “Olivia, being the incredibly sweet human she is, responded within an hour. Over the course of the last four years we’ve remained fairly consistent pen pals and finally met at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 2016.”
Whippersnapper: Yerin Kim, Senior Journalism Student at Syracuse University, Former intern at InStyle
Who she connected with: Courtney Higgs, Editorial Assistant at InStyle (Los Angeles)
Yerin Kim would sit in front of a computer screen for hours trying to craft the perfect email message.
“I always felt like these emails came off awkward or forced,” says Kim. “But once more editors started hopping onto Instagram Stories, I found it so much easier to reach out. If an editor posted a specifically intriguing or insightful photo/Story, I would simply respond via DM. It felt more natural.”
Kim’s replies paid off when she messaged Courtney Higg, an editorial assistant at InStyle‘s L.A. office. Kim was visiting the area on spring break and the two agreed to meet up for lunch. (Kim was a former intern at the mag’s New York office.) Since then, the two have stayed in touch through social media.
“I’ve gotten a lot of advice from younger editors and EAs to stay on an editor’s radar in simple ways such as favoriting/replying to their tweets or Instagram posts,” says Kim. “Everyone has a platform nowadays, so why not put it to use?”