The difference between standing out and being a time burglar

I was talking with a close friend the other day, who is a professer, and he mentioned students that hover inexplicably. He loves talking to his students and helping them out, or even catching up for five minutes here or there. What he isn’t a fan of is, someone who sits in his office and shoots the you-know-what when he needs to be grading papers or planning class work. This got me to thinking about people who tend to follow a bosses or superiors every move hoping to stand out from the crowd.

There is a very fine line to walk here, between standing out from the rest of the group and being a time burglar. I have to admit I love that phrase, it’s just so true. It’s no secret how I landed my internship in Chicago, if you’re unfamiliar check it out. I made a contact with a professional in the PR field and maintained contact with him. Sending him a follow up email the first time we met, then an inquiry to meet up when I was back in Chicago a month later.

Here are the stats he gave me when we did meet up.

He handed out a hundred or so cards to students at this conference.
10 followed up with him.
3 followed up after the initial follow up, either asking a PR related question or asking to meet up to talk shop.
I am now lucky enough to be working for him part time.

When you are presented with an opportunity to network with people in your field it’s very important to be conscious of your contact with them.

DON’T

  • Contact them if you don’t have something specific to ask them.
  • Over contact, if you had a meeting / interview and followed up with a thank you email, a thank you card and phone call aren’t necessary.
  • Don’t ramble! This is hard for me too, but be succinct, practice what you want to say to them.
  • Set up a meeting then be unprepared. You’re wasting yours and their precious time.

DO

  • Make Contact! People in the field, especially PR folk I’ve noticed, love helping young professionals out.
  • Follow up after initial contact or any meeting you have, let them know that you genuinely appreciate their time.
  • Show interest in what they do online. Social media is a great way to see what they have going on in their life.
  • Retweet! If you read their blog and especially like let them know. It also shows them that you’re passionate about the field.
  • Be mindful of what they enjoy talking about, you wouldn’t call a PR pro up and talk about the in’s and out’s of being a librarian. Unless maybe they had a library as a client…but I digress.
  • Be mindful of the way they prefer to communicate.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to get a phone call at 4:50p.m. on a Thursday when you’re trying to wrap up your day?

In short, the Golden Rule. It’s not only something your mom taught you so you wouldn’t beat up your little brother or sister, it’s a great life lesson that can be applied in any situation.

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