Networking Positions You for Success

We all know the saying “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” And as cliché as it may seem, it’s true. Networking is one of the most powerful tools to help elevate your career and ultimately lead you to success. I was extremely fortunate from a young age to have the opportunity to grow my network. At just 23 years old I began working as the press secretary for Michigan Governor John Engler. The position put me in the room with prominent business leaders. Over time I got to know these people, until finally I became one of them.

People often ask me the key to networking and I always come back to one basic maxim: put yourself in position to ask questions and look for opportunities. Leaders have the ability to spot someone who stands out, so make yourself visible. Do not be afraid to reach out to someone who is a higher authority than you. More times than not people are willing to lend a hand because we have all been in the same exact position.

That’s exactly what I did when I met one of Detroit’s nicest business leaders, Jim Nicholson Sr., Chairman of PVS Chemicals. I was staffing the Governor and waiting for a work event to end when Jim came over to talk to me. Something about our conversation and the way he composed himself made me realize this guy was special. With all the important people around, he chose to come over and talk to me and include me in the group. I was just a young staff guy, but his kindness has stuck with me since then. It was a lesson in how to be humble and how something so simple can have a profound and lasting impact.

Whenever I had a question or needed something, he was there. To this day whenever I see Jim we reminisce about the – as we like to put it – “good old days.”

Not only did I find my mentors through networking, but it got my business started by bringing in my very first client. Truscott Rossman’s first client is one of my longtime connections turned friend, Ron Boji. I met Ron in 2001 when I was still working for the governor and getting ready to start my own PR firm. He was new in town and in the process of buying real estate in downtown Lansing. Ron requested to meet the Governor and through our brief interaction, we bonded. Our discussion from that day sparked a business relationship and friendship that continues over 20 years later.

Networking is critical in the world of PR. From press events to developing alliances across the state and country, having a vast network will set you apart from your competitors. It is extremely important to make good connections with people. You never know who you will need to call on for a favor in the future. At TR, we prioritize making connections with reporters and people in and out of the industry. This gives us an advantage when it comes to promoting stories, getting event coverage, being on top of trends and bringing in business.

I’ll leave with one more extremely overused, but very accurate cliché: “It takes years to build a reputation and a day to ruin it.” When networking, always remember to treat people with kindness and respect. I would argue building relationships is becoming a lost art. There is nothing like building personal relationships – it’s one of the true joys of being in the industry.