It’s About Who Knows You

Growing up, my dad always told me life was about relationships and experiences. In college it’s easy to grasp the meaning of that idea. College is all about meeting new people and having the freedom to experience life in a way that was impossible back home.

Its meaning in the workplace is less obvious. Certainly you wouldn’t spend your work time socializing and goofing off if you want to keep you job. Yet the relationships developed not only at work, but also in the professional world at large, could be some of the most important ones you have.

Previously I wrote about the importance of calling your target’s office number ahead of time to find the right contact. While this is true, having the right contact doesn’t mean your target will listen to you. As an aspiring PR practitioner, I sometimes find reporters are reluctant, if not unwilling, to listen to what I have to say. And it’s not because I’m an intern.

My supervisor told me it’s a common problem for people in our field. Her advice to help remedy the divide is to develop working, professional relationships with contacts with relevant interests. For me, that might be a reporter who covers a beat related to my client’s objectives. Instead of flooding these contacts with information I’m promoting, sometimes send a news story their way about a topic of interest. Maybe ask them out for coffee and talk business with them. In other words, she recommends I do more than ask what others can do for me.

The same applies in the workplace. Of course, socializing when you have work to do is never a good idea. But being recognized by your peers for you work can go a long way. Developing relationships in the professional world, being recognized as more than an annoying twenty-something, can not only make work easier but might even land you a job in the future.

Sometimes it’s not about what you know. It’s not even about whom you know. It’s about who knows you.

Chris McKee

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6 Responses to It’s About Who Knows You

  1. pdxsx says:

    Good work, Chris. You’ll find out that PR has a lot to do with relationships – and lunches and coffees are a great way to work with reporters and editors!

  2. This topic has always been something that interests me, especially since I am a double major in PR and Journalism. I think creating relationships with a journalist is a great idea. I know that at my internship many reporters disregard most emails sent to them by PR agents unless it is someone that they know and previously gave them good leads. Once I saw how many emails they got daily from people pitching ideas I completely understood where they were coming from.

  3. sarahbrown90 says:

    Creating relationships is definitely huge, not just in pr but in every day life. Relationships are what make the world go round. People want to help others that they know and have created connections with over a random person they don’t have any ties to. Networking is extremely important and the best way to meet people within your industry, and a great way to meet people you may come in handy somewhere down the line. It is definitely a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours kind of mentality.” When you help others they want to help you out too when they can.

  4. Chris, you bring up a great topic concerning not only professional relationships but the world at large. Sarah mentioned this in her comment as well. It’s always important to have friends to scratch your back in any realm and havig friends in high places in the professional world is a plus. Sounds like you and you supervisor have a great mentor/mentee relationship, make sure to maintain that!

  5. hailayn says:

    Great article, Chris. I’ve written more than 50 articles about recent graduates who have landed jobs. Surprisingly, only about 10 of these found their jobs through online job boards or e-blasts; the majority found their current positions through networking. As Linda mentioned, only 70 percent of jobs aren’t posted, so networking is key to securing the job. Always be sure to throw in: “If there’s ever anything I can do for you, please let me know.”

  6. Good points, Chris. I feel like us interns are learning just as much about the social aspect of entering the corporate world as about the specifics of our industries. It’s strange to realize exactly how much importance is put on networking when job searching, but comforting to know that we have the tools necessary to take advantage of it.

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