career advice

Recap: Gary McCormick's "Top 10 Things I wish I'd Known"

gary By Adriana Di Graziano

Network! No other word can best summarize what Gary McCormick, APR, and Director of Partnership Development for HGTV, said during his speech at the UF PRSSA meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

Entertaining as well as instructive, McCormick's presentation Top 10 Things I Wish I'd Known took the audience through some really interesting facts on how to build a career in public relations, as well as some timeless classics that McCormick renewed with his personal experiences.

Three points in particular seemed to stand out from the others, all orbiting around building relationships and networking:

- Knowing how to use your network is as important as creating one.

- Building relationships is more about giving than taking.

- There's a time and a place for everything.

"Your network is your lifeline to getting a job and being better at it when do land one,"  McCormick said. "People who are getting a job are people who are networking."

Any PR freshmen knows that creating a professional network is important, but McCormick took the game a step further. "Think about your father, your mother; Who are they? Who do they know?"

McCormick pointed out that, in fact, everyone of us has a solid network made of family, friends, relatives, teachers and so on. What matters now is how we use this network. As McCormick pointed out, people know people who know other people.Perhaps a teacher of yours knows a person working for that company you love, or maybe your mother went to the same class as the person responsible for HR at that same company. The takeaway? Know the people you know, who they know and use your network to connect to your dream job.

Now, you might think that this all sounds great, but so far it sounds more like we are taking from our relationships; where does the giving and listening part come in? Well, the listening and giving part comes into play in getting to know your connections.

In this regard, McCormick talked about mentors and how to use them. When you go to someone for help, you cannot expect them to know what you need and do it for you. A connection is created in the moment you approach someone with a clear question and objective. After you establish that, a relationship can be built, and you can work together on clear objectives.

The same applies for a company you might want to work for. Get in contact with people there, ask them about the company and learn more and more about them. In any relationship, he added, "you'll only get what you put into it."

Finally, McCormick touched on a rather odd point that we seldom hear. He talked about relationships in the workplace, putting great emphasis on how there is a time and a place for everything.

"Share your success with friends and family and not in the workplace" McCormick said.

Through the personal experience of a coworker, he showed how sharing your successes in the workplace could hinder your relationships. Particularly when it comes to a promotion people in the workplace might resent you, he added. In the same way, he advised the audience to avoid the office gossip because you can always be the next topic of conversation.

Laughter and hilarity concluded the presentation as McCormick shared some PR horror stories and answered the audience's questions.

So next time you are going through a job listing, or are wondering how to even start your search for the perfect job, remember that your search should start with people. If in doubt, remember that people like Gary McCormick, Champions for PRSSA, are there for students. The effort needs to be yours to get in contact with people, but as McCormick himself said "when you're going to call'em up, they'll help you."