Jim Grasso is an adjunct professor of communication at Boston University and the founder of Grasso Associates, a results-oriented corporate public relations, government affairs and business-writing consulting firm.
I had the chance to speak to him about making the leap to the professional world — here’s some of his advice on networking that I’d like to share:
Tips on Networking
- Make your friends before you need them.
- Treat people like you know them—even if you don’t. When you get someone’s business card, as soon as you can, take a pen and write on the back what they are wearing, where you met them, and the date. When you see them again, reconnect by saying something like “You may not remember me but…” If you can’t remember someone’s name, don’t risk making a mistake. Better to say things like “Great seeing you” or “Hey, how are you doing?”
- Do as many favors as you can. You never know who knows who.
- Don’t be afraid to say thank you. Really good business etiquette is important. For example, when you are going out for job interviews, if you don’t get the job, write a thank you note anyway to the people that interviewed you. One time I was up for this position and competing against this guy that had run a trade association and I hadn’t, so he got the job and I didn’t. After the interview I wrote a letter and called the guy who had interviewed me to thank him. And he said, “I’m sorry you didn’t get this job, but I just heard of another one that is right up your alley…” So there I was, didn’t have the original job that I had wanted, but I had an interview for another one already lined up.
Lessons For the Real World
Always look for new and creative ways to interact with top management. At my first job I conceived and developed a newsletter for the company, because you only need on person to approve it, and in our company that person was the CEO. So I started doing the newsletter and had extra time with the CEO. I got the spouses of the employees to send me baby photos for the newsletter. I would include them and write things like, “Can you guess who these people are? You have to wait until next issue to find out!” People looked forward to kind of thing, everyone likes to see their name in print, and what that does is it builds morale. It makes people enjoy coming to work.
Professor Grasso’s tips have taught me the importance of being proactive and not just looking to my textbook for knowledge. I hope they do the same for you.