Career Tip: Build your network

When you enter a new industry, finding mentors and peers to help you build your career and succeed in your position are important. You will see each other often at events and meetings, and you’ll likely run into each other on your way up the marketing career ladder.

Those in marketing tend to be teachers. They naturally help and mentor those who are honest and genuinely interested, but they will avoid people who want only to use them to advance their personal agenda. Don’t be too eager or greedy by trying to be besties with the Chief Marketing Officer of the most popular company. Relationships have to come naturally, and your goal (hopefully) is to build long-term, lasting peer-to-peer or mentee-mentor bond.

It takes time and a commitment to honing your personal skills outside of work to become “a name” in the marketing field. Determine how much time you want to invest in this venture so you can build meaningful relationships. Ask yourself if you want to be a participant, a volunteer, or if you want to work your way to a leadership role in one of the organizations. Make notes of the Who’s Who in your local area so you can know faces and names when people introduce you or if you see them as keynote speakers at a conference. Be careful not to overextend yourself. If you do, you risk being seen in those circles as unreliable.

Here are some of my musts when it comes to professional organizations and networking:

  1. Join the American Marketing Association and become active in your local chapter
  2. Join the professional society within your industry (Legal Marketing Association, Healthcare Marketing Society, etc.)
  3. If you like a specific area of marketing (graphic design, SEO, social media, PPC, public relations, etc), find a local or regional organization that specializes in that area
  4. Check local Meet-ups to see if there is an active membership with ongoing events
  5. Find one or two awesome conferences to attend each year
  6. Read business magazines that are targeted to your area

Finally, be a part of your community. Having been in marketing & public relations for over two decades, I’ve met numerous people by serving on local non-profit boards. Building relationships in these types of organizations go a long way as you give of your time and talents for no other reason than to help. And when you need someone to stand up for you as a reference, these peers will be a tremendous spokesperson to your ethics, integrity and values.

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