By Bob Wagner, Corporate Public Relations, Xerox
I served as a host at a student and alumni networking event in Rochester, N.Y., recently for an out-of-town college, and it reminded me how valuable networking remains for people—and companies—in transition. And I saw fresh evidence that networking is most effective as an ongoing activity.
Consider, for example, the prospects of students who performed internships or worked summer jobs in their fields while in college. They already have professional relationships to kick-start their networking—and, perhaps, even a job offer from their former associates.
Likewise, students who’ve established themselves professionally in social media have a head start. One recruiter I spoke to shook her head at several students who hadn’t yet established LinkedIn profiles, her company’s first step in screening prospective employees. Compare that to RIT senior Nick Gawreluk, who already has a sufficient industry profile from blogging for Printing Impressions to warrant a video interview on the future of graphic communications for WhatTheyThink.com.*
As Nick points out, the graphic communications industry is going through its own transition these days. Increasingly, graphic communications providers work with new contacts—marketers—playing a new role, as consultants on best practices for deploying an array of print and electronic media.
Systematic networking is critical to success in this transition. Like students taking internships, graphic communications professionals can join marketing and advertising industry associations to learn the industry and develop relationships in non-sales situations. Like students taking part-time jobs, graphic communications pros can host seminars and open houses and seek speaking engagements to showcase their capabilities and thought leadership in ways their new targets may find valuable.
And, of course, graphic communications providers can further establish their industry expertise by engaging in blogs, videos, LinkedIn discussion groups and business networking on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels.*
Networking isn’t easy. You have to make time for it. You have to plan for it. And you have to recognize that not every effort will lead to something tangible. But, make no mistake, effective networking is a key contributor to students getting fast starts on their careers—and to graphic communications providers leading their industry’s transformation.
Bob leads Global Communications for Xerox’s technology business and is a proud RIT alum. Go Tigers!
*Updated November 21, 2017.