Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Guest Blogger: Mike Daniel (Networking Advice from a Media Veteran...)

Name: Mike Daniel
Job Title: Dallas Editor

Q: So, Mike, what do you do?
A: I’m Dallas Editor for Thrillist, a free daily e-mail blast aimed at young, urban, educated 'regular guys' that focuses on cool, new and/or under-publicized restaurants/bars, fashion, gadgets, home items, services, activities and such. It’s basically
Daily Candy for dudes, and it has more than 1 million subscribers in 13 markets nationwide. Previously, I was a writer/editor/critic for The Dallas Morning News’ Arts and Guide sections for 14 years.

Q: So, your job hinges on KNOWING people. Why do you believe networking is important?
A: A statement about why networking is so important.A journalist who uses a cliché is akin to a musician ripping off a classic rock riff, but I’m going to do it here because it’s true: ‘It’s not what you know. It's who you know’. Simply put: the more people that you can form a relationship with — no matter how trivial it may be or feel like — the better your chances of expanding upon just about everything about life, whether it’s related to your career, your education, your personal life, whatever. Knowing the ‘right’ people (or, more succinctly put, making sure they know you) is the no-brainer part. Knowing others who may not seem to have much value to you upon introduction is just as important, however, because you never know when those folks will, all of the sudden, become valuable to you.

Q: Can you give us some networking tips?
A: For some, meeting people is excruciating — it was for me because I grew up very shy, and in the beginning I really had to work to make myself both approachable and unafraid to approach — but even folks such as me can do it. Be friendly, be confident, relax as best you can, and listen; that’s all you really need to do. Oh: when you’re at an event or place, act like you own the sucka.

Keep telling yourself that you belong there. You’re there, aren’t you? No one’s thrown wine on your head, spat on you, or thrown you out, right? So you belong! Getting out regularly (but not every night, you lush. Calm down!) is critical. No one’s going to meet you while you’re sitting on your couch inhaling a quart of Blue Bell while watching America’s Next Top Model. Networking is the best way to figure out where to go and what to attend (hint! HINT!); knowing people with your same interests will mean you’ll be ‘in the know’ by osmosis. Get to know a few folks who dig what you dig.

But here’s the really important part – don’t limit yourself to just things that you’re passionate about. Try out new stuff; be adventurous. Chances are – and this is gold for creative types — you’re going to happen upon new stuff that you like, and that’s not only going to inform your creativity, broaden your education, and buoy your passions, it’s going to open up new avenues for networking. Then: presto! You’ll know more people who’ll introduce you to even more cool things. It’s the sweetest snowball effect in the world. Well, except for pyramid schemes…when you don’t get caught… Before the one-way flight lands safely in Argentina...

Mike Daniel (right) at Platinum Motorcars Grand Opening.

Q: What is the best networking advice you can give to students, especially since some of our students will want to work in the media?
A: Besides what I’ve said above, I’m a big believer in simply being yourself. Wear your talents on your sleeve, not up your sleeve and out of sight – but don’t rub your sleeves all over everyone. By that, I mean use what you’re good at to your advantage when forging relationships, but don’t force any of it down anyone’s throat. (Besides: no one wants your cooties. Well, she might. Or maybe he does? Hmmm ... ) Remember that knowledge is power – yes, another cliché that’s filled with truth, but only upon the realization that it’s not just referring to book smarts or skill smarts, but people smarts, too.

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