“It’s got a lot to do with who you know.” You’ve probably heard magazine editors say this before. Since the industry is so small and people tend to move around quickly, your slew of contacts could be what’s standing in the way between you and your dream job. Even if you find the idea of networking intimidating, once you master these skills, you’ll become a pro at it in no time!
Get Out There
It might sound obvious, but the best way to get started is to put yourself out there and attend networking events. Some organizations (like, ahem, Ed2010) hold happy hours hosted by a staff editors from a specific publication, says Brittany Galla, editor in-chief of M Magazine and editor-at-large of J14 and Twist.
Can’t make it to an event? Email an editor you admire and ask them to meet you for coffee (even better: offer to buy them a cup and bring it to their office!). “Send a short, sweet email, introduce yourself, and maybe give a line or two about what you like about their work or the publication they work for.” says Cassie Shortsleeve, freelance editor and writer and former executive editor at Shape.com. Other places you can easily find networking opportunities include sponsored Q&A panels, PR events, and even your college. “Go to your career planning office and ask for a list of all of the alumni who are listed as journalists. I did that my junior year at [my school], and I emailed them all,” adds Shortsleeve.
Do Your Homework
The easiest way to strike up a conversation with an editor is to show up prepared with information.“If possible, do some light research ahead of the event on who will be attending, and see if you have any mutual acquaintances who can make an introduction,” says Anna Kocharian, assistant editor at Domino.com.
Also, use social media to your advantage. Scout their social feeds for a little background on what they do, suggests Lindsey Stanberry, senior editor of work and money at Refinery29. Show them that you’re genuinely interested in getting to know them and their career path.
Small Talk Goes a Long Way
Not sure how to strike up a conversation? Never underestimate the power of small talk. Find common ground with an editor whether it’d be an article she wrote that you enjoyed or a shared love for your school’s football team. Think of topics outside of your career like which Instragrammers you follow, what neighborhoods you’ve lived in, concerts you’ve gone to.
And as for the hard-hitting career questions, don’t hold back. Galla suggests to put yourself in their shoes and try to figure out what you would like to be asked and come up with 10 or 15 questions. They can range from resumé tips to how they got started, or what they like about their job. Editors will appreciate the interest and feel that you’re worth their time.
Check In Periodically
You can be a social butterfly at happy hours and establish a bond over coffee, but maintaining the relationship is what seals the deal.“Shoot your contacts an email every few months with updates on what you’re doing or what you like about anything that has changed about their publication,” says Shortsleeve.
Add a personal touch to your follow-up emails by mentioning a conversation you both shared, sending over an article that you found interesting, or even a birthday wish, adds Kocharian. And don’t forget to share your latest accomplishments such as a new job or a published clip.
Keep On Networking
Whether you’re a first-time job seeker or a seasoned vet looking for your next move, it never hurts to grow your social circle. The publishing company is unpredictable, and you never how your situation will change and where your contacts will end up. “Networking the day you lost your job is not doing it right, says Galla. “You’re going to be 10 times happier if you have two to three solid editors you love that you can email and get advice from.”