Networking tips from a pro

October 29, 2009 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Recruiters and career experts agree — and successful job seekers can attest — that most jobs are not landed through list serves, ads or job fairs but through contacts and networking. We hear it all the time. Okay, it’s true. But how do you network in a way that leaves you some time to actually apply for jobs, follow up on leads and go to interviews?

I decided to turn to an expert and ask for some detailed advice on how journalists — who already know a lot of people — can most effectively network to land a job. I chose Bill Stokes because he is a D.C. networking guru; he’s an executive recruiter and also chairman of the Washington Network Group. (Here’s the plug and link:

WNG Events Upcoming WNG Events

While being an obvious fan and believer in networking, Bill acknowledges that job seekers can spin their wheels and waste a lot of time through inefficient and haphazardly targeted networking attempts. Here are some of his tips:

*While it’s essential to use social networking sites — and constantly monitor them — during a job hunt, Bill reminds job seekers that “you and I talking on the phone or you meeting someone on Linked In you have never met is not qualitatively the same as meeting each other as a human being.” He suggests that after initial virtual meetings  job hunters try to meet potentially key contacts in person, if only for coffee.

*He is obviously a believer in joining groups for networking. But he says people can waste too much time on these groups and can also duplicate their efforts. He suggests joining a maximum of three organizations for networking purposes. The first, he recommends, should be an affinity group, like NABJ or NAHJ, or your university alumni organization, especially if many journalists are involved. Then he suggests joining a professional group related to your professional interests (and your job hunt) but be sure they have an active local chapter as well as a good national organization.

*Then he suggests joining a group related to something “you’re passionate about” — a sport, a hobby, a religious-affiliated group. How can that help you land a job? Bill says connections made through such groups often lead to connections that directly relate to jobs: a kinda Zen approach to job hunting. “That’s where accidental relationships happen,” he says. “What happens accidentally, you can’t necessarily control for, but if you are putting yourself in a situation where you are not sure what may happen, it could happen.”

*Once you’ve chosen your groups, get involved heavily with one, commit to it and become a leader in the organization, Bill recommends. He suggests an involvement for a few years so you get the most out of the group. And then move on. “It’s a renewal kind of process,” he says. “It’s like rotating your crops — if you grow corn in the same field three years in a row, the corn’s not very good the third year…it’s just nature.”

*Ask for recommendations and referrals after you’ve spent time with individuals in the group, not just after you’ve met. Stokes says by showing you care about the same things and are dedicated to the organization, other members of the group will be more willing (and much more effective) champions on your behalf.

*As always, I have a few job leads to mention. The first two are with Northwestern University’s Medill D.C. program (I acknowledge being partial to these as I’m a Medill grad!):
*The Medill National Security Journalism Initiative at Northwestern University seeks an experienced news professional with extensive knowledge of national security issues to teach graduate students in an immersion journalism project. The position is full-time in fall quarters and at least part-time the rest of the year. It is based at Medill’s Washington campus. The position will continue through the end of 2011 and may be extended beyond that.

The ideal candidate will have extensive knowledge and professional experience covering national and homeland security issues and civil liberties. He or she will be experienced in multimedia journalism; dedicated to the goals of making journalism more relevant to citizens; experience dealing with readers/viewers; and a track record of experimentation.

Duties include teaching graduate students; development of programs for working journalists; and contributing to a Web site that houses the initiative’s work.

For consideration, please send cover letter and resume to

*The other position is a part-time Web designer position with the same program. Details follow:

The Medill National Security Journalism Initiative at Northwestern University seeks a Web site community manager with strong production, writing and editing skills. The ideal candidate will have experience in social media, participatory media and interactive journalism. The focus of the Web site is on national security, defense and civil liberties with the purpose of improving journalistic practice and increasing public engagement. The community manager will help launch the Web site and other outreach tools to bring together interested parties.

This is a part-time position of at least two years’ duration.
* Launch, along with the co-directors of the program, the week-to-week editorial strategy for the new site
* Help develop the tone and the voice for the site and any associated programming
* Maintain and produce the site (A working knowledge of HTML and CSS, as well experience with audio and video production, is essential.)
* Grow and expand site traffic and audience engagement
* Seek out and execute meaningful editorial and content partnerships
* Supervise social media and other audience development strategies.

Please send cover letter and resume to

*The folks at Media Jobs have a few local jobs in their latest listing that look interesting…Here is the link and I’ll note the D.C. area listings:

Job Seekers:
min’s Job Center has over 1,000 jobs including editors, writers, and publishers. If you are having trouble keeping up, stay updated with the latest jobs via RSS Feed, Twitter or Personal Job Alerts.

Daily Job Alerts:
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Post your resume for free today and put yourself on the map! Access the newest jobs available to media professionals.

Happy hunting out there!



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