Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
To be fully transparent, since that’s still a favorite buzzword thanks to our FTC friends, this list could be much longer. However, “The 77 Things Dave Didn’t Know” doesn’t have a great ring to it. We all like lists and tips so here are a few things that could have helped me as I transitioned into the day-to-day world of communications and public relations.
1. Asking Questions is a Good Thing
I came into the working world with a misconception that asking question was somehow admitting defeat. After all, I’d just graduated and felt like I’d accomplished a great deal in my time at school. I had a hard time admitting that I didn’t know something. What would everyone think?
Over the years, I’ve seen a strong pattern that those who ask questions, and listen closely to the answers, are often times the smartest ones in the room.
2. Business Background Buys Credibility
I’d done the econ and finance classes throughout college but really hadn’t thought of really spending time studying how the best business leaders achieved their goals. Organizational management wasn’t a common crossover for communications students but I wish I would have thought of it. Understanding operations and management styles are critical for communicators.
3. Confidence- Trust Yourself
*Caution on this one – it can easily go the wrong way if confidence moves to ego. As long as you’re really putting in the work, be comfortable speaking up about your areas of responsibility. It help others understand that you’re making the transition to a true pro and that you’re capable of providing immediate value to the organization.
4. Watch the Office Politics Closely
I had no idea how important this is when coming out of school. It only takes one big miss to get off on the wrong foot with someone you’ll need as an ally down the road. I don’t like power plays. Those that use internal status to move their own agendas but I won’t pretend they don’t exist. Watch closely and see where both friction and allegiances lie. Think of it as high-stakes Survivor. You don’t want to quickly become tied to the person in the office that’s sinking or on their way out. Take the time to watch and learn from the dynamics you see.
5. School Isn’t Over
Something changes every day in the communications industry. Might be new technology or a new contact you should meet but there should never be a day when you don’t learn something new. Literally, keep notes on who you met today that will help down the road or tag your calendar with an idea for tomorrow before you go home for the day. Simple steps like this will keep you learning and keep you ahead of the pack.
This is in no way a comprehensive list. As I said, I could add more on my own but what have others learning in the first years of a communications career? What other tips do you have for the future of our industry?
(Thanks to @PRVille for tweeting this :-D )