The Canadian Public Relations Society

The value of the network: to infinity and beyond

In public relations on September 14, 2010 at 1:28 pm

It’s not about what you know, but who you know. These were words that I heard many times over the course of my university career.

As I’ve discovered, knowing the right people is extremely important. I want to share my networking experiences and receive feedback from you, the readers of this blog, as a platform to offer advice to other young students and new grads as they start their careers and networks.

I first became involved with the Canadian Public Relations Society in my second year at U of C. With the organization, I planned student events, attended board meetings and interacted with members (a group of extremely knowledgeable and outgoing individuals who were willing to be role models and help expand my horizons).

After a few months of experience with the CPRS membership I began to understand the statement I’d heard so many times: it’s about who you know. Each person has their own network of connections that can be invaluable for sharing resources, expertise…and for giving references.

One reason I speak so highly of CPRS and the benefits that come with being part of the group is because my last two job opportunities have come from within the organization. In the fall of 2009 I was looking for an opportunity to be involved with the Olympics in Vancouver. I attended a CPRS student event called Speed Dating, Public Relations Style where I met Guy Napert-Frenette, a CPRS member and the Communications Manager for Canada~Snowboard. I passed my resume to Guy and a month later he called me up to chat about an available position. The position, which I was hired for, turned out to be one of the greatest experiences in my life. It didn’t involve applying for a job or even an interview; just handing in my resume and a chat over coffee.

This past spring, after my term ended with Canada~Snowboard I was seeking a full time position. After a couple months I became frustrated searching, casting my rod and only receiving a few bites. I sent out an email to a few colleagues from CPRS. One of them was Doug Lacombe, a well-known and respected communications and social media guru. As it turned out, Doug had been working with a client who was interested in expanding its investor relations department. Because of a recommendation from Doug I got an interview and was offered the job.

Perhaps I’ve made the whole networking and job search process seem pretty easy. Attend an event, get a job. Send an email, get a job. But in both cases there was a lot of time invested before I achieved the result. The hours I put in as a volunteer were certainly important and helped build my reputation and relationships within the organization so that people were confident enough in my abilities to recommend me. In terms of the job search, I also spent many hours/days/weeks sending out resumes, and emails, and calling, and applying. Some people I connected with were just not able to help me in any way. I certainly look forward to helping those in my network as others have helped me.

What are your experiences in networking and what is some advice that you have to pass on to others?

Tammy Schwass is a recent graduate of the Communications Studies program at the University of Calgary. As a student she represented CPRS on campus and helped organize student events. She is currently working as the Investor Relations Coordinator at FLYHT, AeroMechanical Services in Calgary.

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  1. First, kudos to Tammy for sharing her experiences on the CPRS blog.

    I want to underline her point about the value of being a volunteer. Now I know that Facebook and Linked In and other social media methods have their place in networking now-a-days, but the value of face-to-face contact with colleagues made while working on a worthwhile project (and doing a good job of it) is priceless. The CPRS Calgary board has assigned director John Robertson from Marketwire to take on a new portfolio — to help connect members, who want to volunteer, to committee chairs who need a hand. For more info, e-mail him at volunteers@cprscalgary.com for more information.

  2. Thanks, Judi. This is valuable information. I know many friends who are trying to make connections and find people to help educate them about the industry. Volunteering is a great way to get out and start to build those relationships.

  3. […] In Mentorship on November 9, 2010 at 8:57 pm As I wrote in a previous blog post, The value of a network: to infinity and beyond, I’ve been involved with CPRS Calgary for about 4 years now.  I jumped when I heard about the […]

  4. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your
    site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

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