I was in Bloomingdale's the other day looking at things I couldn't afford, didn't need, and, of course, desperately wanted, when a sales assistant caught my eye.
If you don't know, I'm a transplanted Southerner
and am absolutely genetically incapable of not speaking to folks I see in stores, on the street, and just about everywhere else (except the subway, where weirder people than I seem to congregate).
Well, I said "hello" to Geneva, the sales assistant, and we struck up a conversation.
What a coincidence!
Also found out her son was born in 1978...the year my wife and I moved from Hampton, Virginia to
a state where, watching the weather reports earlier that year, we declared "only crazy people
live." (Note: Except for a three-year sojourn in wonderfully laid-back Honolulu, Hawaii, we've been here ever since.)
Also turns out Geneva used to work for Boston Edison (now part of NStar) and knows my friend Walter Salvi, who now heads the community relations activities for NStar.
What all this means both for you and for my Communication students at Curry College, where I head the Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, as well as for my graduate students at Regis College, where I teach in the Organizational and Professional Communication
area, is that the world is really, really small.
You never know where you might run into someone who has some sort of connection with an organization you're interested in working for. The "trick" is to connect with that person.
It's called "networking," and I preach the sermon almost daily in every class.
- Go to professional meetings for associations in the area you're interested. Here's my list of regulars: Boston Chapter, Public Relations Society of America; Publicity Club of New England; Social Media Club of Boston.
- Take advantage of special programs offered by organizations in your desired career field. I'm on the mailing list for several PR firms and other organizations, and I go to as many of their programs as possible...to learn and to network.
- Go out with your friends and your friends' friends...some of the best leads come from casual conversations over a beer/soda/chocolate milk.
And, talk to folks in the stores where you shop and the restaurants where you eat. Once again, just like my chance meeting with Geneva, you don't know who knows who.
This is what makes up what I think of as "life's little surprises." Learning how to look at people and speak to people can open up Forrest Gump's "box of chocolates." And, in the midst of all those yummy goodies just might be a connection that you can use.
"The man seeking his first job or trying to change the job he has should remember that third parties can approach employers as friendly middlemen. First of all, people he knows, experienced friends with knowledge and contacts, can broach the matter for him and can presumably be depended on to do a friendly service. Professional and trade associations know what goes on in their fields." - Edward L. Bernays, "Your Future in Public Relations" (Richards Rosen Press, 1961)