I earned my bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications/Advertising (and one in French) and have worked on both the client side and the agency side.
The common thread through my career which continues to my current status as free-lance consultant, is that it has always been based on a network of relationships and professional (and personal) friendships. That network has sustained my business life and has also enable me to find connections when needed for colleagues and friends.
A colleague recommended me for a position at the Tampa Museum of Art where I became the public relations manager, a job that I still remember fondly. Promoting the various changing exhibits to the museum’s audienceswas a new challenge every 6 to 8 weeks.
Working with the various departments that keep an art museum in the spotlight was a wonderful challenge. It enabled me to make community connections, media connections and links to the art community. The blend of creativity and business was an interesting learning experience and I will always treasure the skills and relationships that I still maintain.
From there I was recruited via other colleagues into various marketing and public relations-related companies. Shortly after I had our oldest son I was laid off and took that opportunity to start a free-lance marketing communications business. Again, my network of friends supported and encouraged me, a few colleagues worked in similar fields and would call me in on projects where my real estate and sports marketing skills were a good fit. I did, and still, do the same today sharing professional contacts and recommendations within my network.
Through the various tentacles of my network I was able to expand my horizons and find my strengths. And I’m still expanding my network and developing more skills as a result. There were a good handful of people who influenced me but they may not even remember the impact they had on me. A simple “You should apply for this great position at the Museum” or “Let me introduce you to ______” had far-reaching effects for me.
In this high tech world, the high-touch aspects of friendships and relationships become only more valuable I believe. When we encourage and find strengths in others we build to greater things.
· What has been your most important experience as a mentor?
One of the best lessons I learned is the fact that what may seem minor networking and encouragement can bring very impactful results. The right amount of encouragement without pushing, seeing that seed in someone and just watering it a little bit, was enough to see a person thrive and blossom.
A younger friend wasn’t sure what career path to follow and earned a degree in communications/PR. Her mother was always trying to get her to marry a doctor so one day we were talking and I suggested she become a doctor herself. She is know a successful pediatrician.
Our talks gave her the courage and self confidence to pursue what she wanted, not what others wanted for her. Most people you meet on your path, even long ago, often are more than willing to share connections or help where they can.
· What has been your most important experience as a mentee?
The most valuable thing I learned myself was that most people will be glad to assist if they can. Most of the positions in my career have come through my networking. Someone once told me that in networking you should keep as many options open as possible.
Ask for a contact who might know of positions in the field rather than asking if he/she knows of a job. This broadens the network substantially rather than ending in a dead-end. (“nope, I don’t know of anyone hiring” instead, contact X, he/she may have some ideas)
· How did you arrive at the position you are in now?
Through a small network of friends/colleagues, word-of-mouth and connecting with people.
I am still freelancing with advertising agencies and marketing people I have known for 15-25 years.
Maintaining friendships and never burning bridges has been very valuable in my career.