Everyone has to start somewhere, and in this industry especially, that somewhere usually starts with a someone. (Even if it’s, ahem, Ed himself). Not to worry whippersnappers—building a network isn’t about jumping through flaming hoops of fire, and anyone can do it if he or she takes the right steps. With that said, here are the top tips that Ed picked up from the successful panelists at last month’s Networking 101 event.
Asking for an Informational Interview
“If you’re cold-emailing, don’t pick the top of the masthead (they won’t have time for you), and don’t pick the bottom (they might see you as competition),” says Russell Pearlman, senior markets editor at Smart Money. “Instead, choose to email someone in the middle, like a senior or associate-level editor. Keep your subject line concise and include the words ‘Referral,’ ‘Referred by’ or ‘Interview Request’.”
“Pay attention to his or her role,” says Lindsay Unterberger, online lifestyle editor for Glamour.com. “Don’t go on and on in the email that you love different sections in Glamour magazine when you’re asking for an informational with the web editor.”
“Make sure you treat it like a cover letter for an internship,” says Lori Segal, research editor at Allure. “Tell the editor about what sections you look forward to each month, or a piece that he or she wrote that you especially enjoyed.” Specifics are important, since these will tell the editor that you have a vested interest in the title, as opposed to blindly emailing people to seek job opportunities.
How to Build Your Network
“Keep in touch with all of the assistants, associate editors and even your current intern group,” says freelance writer Melissa Walker. “Eventually they will all get new jobs and scatter to different titles and companies.” Think about it: every time you move, you meet new people, and every time someone you know moves, your network grows even more.
“I learned to make friends outside of the magazine industry,” says Rachel Mount, assistant editor at O, The Oprah Magazine. “These people will most likely be your sources when you’re trying to track down experts and brainstorm new story ideas.”
How to Maintain Your Network
“I have a past intern who sends me her college’s magazine that she works on,” says Mount. “She tags stories for me that she thinks I would be interested in. It’s a good way for her to show me what she’s been up to, without being intrusive.”
“I find that holiday and birthday cards are a surefire excuse to keep in touch with someone,” says Unterberger. “Whenever I receive one, it puts that person back into the front of my mind.”