You never know how one person you meet could impact your life. After visiting my family, I tried to see if I could attend the 2015 Public Relations Association of Mississippi Conference. Awaiting job interviews is facing the uncertainty. So I generously paid the late fee to the conference to meet people. I decided to drive an hour back each day to attend the conference from my college town in Starkville, MS to Tupelo.
On the first day, I was driving from my hometown of Sikeston, MO. It would be a waste of gas to go back to Starkville so I read “The Martian” in the hotel lobby. I ran into several people that I knew checking in. I was waiting for the opening night party at the birthplace of Elvis Presley. When the party started, I mingled around and met Diane Godwin. We hit it off quite well because her husband Mike was a coworker of mine.
Ms. Diane was very special to me because she encouraged me during the “I might want to consider another field” phase of my life. She took me out to eat for many meals afterward, where she insisted that she take the bill because mentors had done that for her. She taught me that it might be rough at first but it will be okay.
The second person I met opened more than multiple doors. After dancing around to the music of an Elvis impersonator, I ran into a familiar face, Kristie Aylett. Then she introduced me to Shonali Burke. I tried to make it as personal as possible as I thought that I had met her before, which was a mistake. Not only was this woman not a native of the South, but also she had worked with ASCPA, United Nations Blue Key Campaign and of course she presented a Ted Talk. Kristie’s husband, offered me to sit at their table they had reserved at Park Heights. However, I had to get back to Starkville. To this day, I still regret that I couldn’t eat with them. I communicated with Shonali throughout the weekend where I later learned about her Social PR online community and monthly twitter chat called #measurepr. I won the title of queen of social PR for writing a BuzzFeed Community post, which included a screen shot of the #measurepr chat.
The best thing about your network is that they give you the ability to see so much more potential in yourself. However, the main part of my story with Shonali happened around mid February 2015. With my social media reputation, I was trying to pick myself up from my bootstraps because my Instagram account had been hacked into. During the time, I tried to treat my personal account as if I were an agency dealing with a client. I turned to her Social PR group as a group to turn to for advice on how to manage the problem. Trust me I was desperate because the pictures the hackers posted were horrid. At the end of the nightmare, I had sent a message in the group stating that I would work on a blog about the hacking. Well Shonali offered me a blogging position. It wasn’t until several posts later, I was offered a regular blogger position.
Networking is all about sharing great ideas. Yes, making advancements in your career is awesome, but the passion that goes behind the ideals makes everything worthwhile. Of course, Diane and Shonali have introduced me to amazing people. If you are so worked up on getting a job with networking, you need to get out now. Whether someone lives in the place you want to work or someone lives where you have no desire to move to, you just need to be there for your community. With networking, it is all about learning from others. No one needs to look like hire me now. You don’t run up to prospective employer and say, “Hey my name is Em Hawes, I want a job.” Just take your time and share your ideas.
Emma Hawes is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.