Your Career and You: "Life’s Little Surprises…Talk to People!"

I was in Chestnut Hill (MA) Bloomingdale’s the other day looking at things I couldn’t afford, didn’t need, and, of course, desperately wanted, when a sales assistant caught my eye.

If you don’t know, I’m a transplanted Southerner and am absolutely genetically incapable of not speaking to folks I see in stores, on the street, and just about everywhere else (except the subway, where weirder people than I seem to congregate).

Well, I said “hello” to Geneva, the sales assistant, and we struck up a conversation.

Turns out she is from Americus, Georgia, a hop-skip-and-a-jump from my own hometown of Dublin. Instant connection there!

What a coincidence!

Also found out her son was born in 1978…the year Margaret and I moved from Hampton, Virginia to a state where, watching the weather reports earlier that year, we declared “only crazy people live.” (Note: Except for a three-year sojourn in wonderfully laid-back Honolulu, Hawaii, we’ve been here ever since.)

Also turns out Geneva used to work for Boston Edison (now part of NStar) and knows my friend Walter Salvi, who now heads the community relations activities for NStar.

What all this means both for you and for my Communication students at Curry College, where I head the Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, as well as for my graduate students at Regis College, where I teach in the Organizational and Professional Communication area, is that the world is really, really small.

You never know where you might run into someone who has some sort of connection with an organization you’re interested in working for. The “trick” is to connect with that person.

It’s called “networking,” and I preach the sermon almost daily in every class.

  • Go to professional meetings for associations in the area you’re interested. Here’s my list of regulars: Boston Chapter, Public Relations Society of America; Publicity Club of New England; Social Media Club of Boston.
  • Take advantage of special programs offered by organizations in your desired career field. I’m on the mailing list for several PR firms and other organizations, and I go to as many of their programs as possible…to learn and to network.
  • Go out with your friends and your friends’ friends…some of the best leads come from casual conversations over a beer/soda/chocolate milk.
And, talk to folks in the stores where you shop and the restaurants where you eat. Once again, just like my chance meeting with Geneva, you don’t know who knows who.

This is what makes up what I think of as “life’s little surprises.” Learning how to look at people and speak to people can open up Forrest Gump’s “box of chocolates.” And, in the midst of all those yummy goodies just might be a connection that you can use.

“The man seeking his first job or trying to change the job he has should remember that third parties can approach employers as friendly middlemen. First of all, people he knows, experienced friends with knowledge and contacts, can broach the matter for him and can presumably be depended on to do a friendly service. Professional and trade associations know what goes on in their fields.” – Edward L. Bernays, “Your Future in Public Relations” (Richards Rosen Press, 1961)


About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in careers, Curry College, job hunting, networking, PRSA Boston, Regis College, Undergraduate Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Your Career and You: "Life’s Little Surprises…Talk to People!"

  1. Brave Boss says:

    .Hey Guys,When I was start the own business in Singapore. Then I have Nothing knowledge of business and also how to improve professionally my business. But by the help of ROI I learn about business. I think ROI Strategy handled the press conference professionally and they also helped us with additional marketing and sales ideas to sustain the brand awareness.public relations company Singapore.


  2. Emily Hunt says:

    Thank you for sharing the networking groups – It prompted me to join and I'm excited to explore and keep up with the discussions. I hope it will also help expand my opportunities as I am eager to find a new gig doing something I love and am passionate about!


  3. Thank YOU, Emily! I'm glad I was able to encourage you to explore some other job search networking possibilities! Best of luck…keep me posted on your progress! ~ Kirk


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