Don’t be a Rookie, Rookie.

If you have read my blog before this, you can tell, my passion is to help people. I feel that if I can help someone by passing down wisdom of what I have learned, the right person will appreciate it most. That is what this blog post is about.

In a dog-eat-dog world, it’s not about what you know–it’s who you know. Does experience count for something? It’s more like icing on the cake if you’re a match for a company that wants you. So how do you go from being a rookie to a professional?

Start acting like a professional. Rookies act like rookies. You can insert graduate, college student, or whatever adjective fits your current situation. I have noticed when you start acting like a professional, other professionals starts to notice.

Network like you mean it. Don’t go to an event just to collect and pass out business cards. You don’t know what to be that person. Go with a goal in mind. Last time, I called a friend up to fully commit myself in going and talk to three new people. (Only three?) Going is making progress in the right direction, but to be successful, I need to step out of my comfort zone. You should try to do the same.

Don’t be unique, be memorable. Everyone is trying to stand out. What do you see in your circle of peers? Think of way to stand out and be memorable is what is going to work in your favor.

Develop a brand about you.  If you are going into the communications field, this is a great way to start practicing your craft. Make a brand that makes you memorable to those you meet. Your brand should reflect who you are, so this goes hand in hand with the point above.

Make appointments with key contacts. When you network with someone, you are not instant Facebook friends. Connect with contacts on LinkedIn first. Your LinkedIn contacts will remain contacts until you take time to develop a working relationship. To grab his or her attention try sending an e-mail, tweet, or share something related to his or her industry once a month. If you see each other again, try to schedule a meeting to see how you two can help one another. Sometimes the other person might be able help you more than you help them, but connect with the intention to be helpful and learn.

If you get a meeting (not an interview) from a contact, always call 24 hours in advance you can make it. This is a reminder to the other party, you are coming and for them to clear time for you.  When I confirm the appointment, I call or leave a brief message. Afterward, I write a brief follow-up e-mail. Sometimes e-mail is faster for a response but not the only way to communicate. The morning of the meeting, check your e-mail again and listen to any messages. You don’t want to have a misunderstanding.

What has helped you up your game? If I can help you, tweet to @IamRachalT and I’ll be sure to do what I can. Good luck out there!

Network Relationship Etiquette (Part 1)

The professional world (outside of college) has its standards and expectations. The young professionals who are aspiring to make it into any industry must seek out what is accepted to make the mold. I am not talking about buying name brand items and accessories to “look” the part (although it does help). Without the proper etiquette, your look will get you no where fast. I am thankful to have a network that is honest with me and quickly corrects me if I slip somewhere. I appreciate all the advice and constructive criticism I have received that I have applied to my own young professional image. I am a senior who is anticipating for December to graduate with my B.A. in Communications. (sighs) I know once it gets here, I’ll look back and wish for time to have gone a little slower. In the mean time, I am here to help anyone who hasn’t received the help I have over the last year.

  • Your name. What’s in a name? Everything! If you have a nickname or another way to say your birth name you prefer to be called, make it professional and stick to it. (e.g. Nicole can be Nikki or Patrick can be Pat)
  • E-mail. If you haven’t already, register a professional e-mail at a domain of your choice. The hot domains are Gmail or your own personalized one through GoDaddy.com (I have Yahoo! because I’ve had it a long time.) It is very common to see a first and last name address (e.g. JohnSmith@gmail.com). Numbers are ok if they have a significance. If they don’t, why do you have them there in the first place? Make sure whatever address you decide on, it is unique enough to represent you without confusing a future employer or connection. Keep this account separate from your forwards of comic relief.
  • Insert an e-mail signature or type your own each time? Think of the time you’ll be saving if you did name a signature. It can be a personal choice to type your own and share what information or not with each contact. If you decide to make your own, keep it simple. Inserting a job title or degree earned is acceptable and adds creditability. A first and last name is sufficient with a contact phone number. Inserting a URL address is attractive, but make sure the URL is entered correctly and is ok share with all professionals. Adding images for the company you currently work for is certainly ok, but anything other image should relate back to you, the individual. I have seen some signature with little “tags” of social media networking sites with a URL attached. This is clever and can replace an about.me page*.
  • Phone number(s): The contact number you are displaying in your e-mail signature, make sure it is written correctly. (I have called someone’s contact number and it was the wrong person. Oops!) If you are giving a personal cell phone number, change your voice mail right now! Do not have anything that could confuse or not give your future contact a clear idea of who they are trying to reach–you. A common approach would be, “Thank you for calling ________ (first name or first and last name), please leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Have a great day!” I like to talk in 3rd person, so my current message is, “Thank you for calling Rachal Tarquin’s cell phone. She cannot come to the phone right now but if you leave her a message, I’ll let her know you called. Thank you and have a great day.” I have gotten a few laughs asking if I had a receptionist. If you are giving out a work number, make sure your work knows about it. Nothing is more embarrassing to have a contact call you at work and the person answering the phone at work not know who you are.
  • *As mentioned before, an About.Me page can be replaced with tiny images of certain social media networking sites. This can be a personal choice as there is no “best” way, but it is a trend to have for a one stop place for all your connections to see YOU. Nothing is worse than you portraying yourself to be a professional in one area and be something else. My about.me page is where I send current and future contacts. Before picking an image or what to write, I looked at many other about.me pages and got ideas. It is very easy to take a flashy picture of yourself as something else, but who are you trying to sell: the image or yourself? I was even considering have a professional take my pictures to get my personality “captured” in an elegant way to put on here. Seriously. As you can see (if you clicked the link), I ended up posting a picture of something that represents me in the simplest way–something green and my name. The first time Starbucks spelled my name right, I knew I had to capture the moment and am glad I did. I use it now on my page and get many compliment on it. My passion color of choice is of course green.

Stay tuned for next time when I talk about content on about.me, social media content, and anything you comment on to suggest!

Comments and suggestions are welcome.Thank you for reading!