V.A: The importance of asking for advice
One month has already passed, which means it’s time for my next post. Since we spoke last I have turned 24 years old, had some big happenings professionally, celebrated Christmas with my family back home and had some time to process the singular year 2020 was. I feel truly blessed and excited for this year to come.
But that’s not what I will be writing about this time. Instead I will speak about the importance of a great network, and more specifically the right network.
In my guest writing a few months ago here on NIKA I told you about how I got into PR. It wasn’t merely a coincidence but the result of meeting the right person. It was then I learned how much of an influence on your life other people will have if you let them. Both positive and negative.
During my first internship at the agency Redgert Comms I received a lot of attention from people around me. The owner of the agency is quite well known and the agency was new and in the hot air. Even childhood friends outside the industry knew about the agency. Suddenly I went from being a small town girl to a small town girl spotted in the background of influencers such as Isabella Löwengrip’s Instagram stories. Time passed, my internship came to its end and it was time for me to get back to school (and back to reality).
When it was time for the second internship of my studies about half a year later, I felt a pressure I hadn’t felt before. The attention got to my head and I thought that people would judge me if I did my internship at a company less cool than Redgert Comms. I felt that I had to do something extraordinary in order for it to count in the eyes of others and myself. I started looking for internships in New York and emailed executives at big international companies as I thought that was the natural next step. But without a clue if that was what I really wanted and worth fighting for.
I once again executed my own prophecy “ask someone you could trade places with” and texted Daniel (the founder of Redgert Comms) and asked if I could get his advice. The next day I brought some coffee to his office, sat down with him for 30 minutes and told him my options. I will share them below:
Bust my ass off trying to get something in New York regardless what it is
Accept the offer I had already gotten, even though it didn’t feel completely right (the comfortable choice)
Try something different
Daniel followed with a few questions. The one that go stuck in my head was when he asked me if I wanted to live and move to New York right now. I said, “No, I like Stockholm and have just started to build my life here, but maybe later.” He then answered, that if that’s the case, the smartest thing to do is to stay in Stockholm. Meet more people in the industry and make a name for myself first. New York will not disappear in case I want to go later, and the upside with that option is that I will have built a name for myself in Stockholm, go to New York, then come back and be even more relevant and ”hot on the market”.
And when he said that I felt relieved. The coolest choice doesn’t always have to be the best choice.
I ended up trying something different. Daniel told me to think about who I had met in the industry during our time together, in that case he could help me with a reference. I suddenly remembered a breakfast meeting at hotel Miss Clara a couple months earlier, with the head of PR at the fashion company Nelly. I remembered her as extremely well dressed, in that low key cool way with a checkered blazer over a white t-shirt. And a large Céline letter necklace. Other than that she was professional, respectful and kind. A thought occurred in my mind that I wanted to be like her.
I mentioned Nelly and Daniel said, “Go for it”.
I contacted the head of PR at Nelly. She remembered me from the meeting, and after an interview she emailed me that I was very welcome to do my internship with her at Nelly. She later told me she probably wouldn’t have considered me if it weren’t for our quick encounter earlier at hotel Miss Clara. At the time I had no other ties to or experience with PR other that my internship at Redgert Comms, neither a relevant education. But we were both very glad our paths crossed. She played a grand role in the search for my first job and shared insights I live after to this day.
A relationship I cherish a lot.
So, what I am trying to state with this little story is the importance of asking for advice, and finding the right people to ask. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the amazing people taking the time to steer me in the right direction.
To finish this of I will give you a few tips on how to get started:
No matter in which part of the journey you are, make sure to find a mentor or someone you are allowed to ask for advice. It doesn’t really matter who it is as long as it’s a person you look up to in the specific matter. You can implement this in your career, personal development or a hobby.
Make contact. The channel of choice is very individual, but try to stand out a bit. If you believe the person gets a tremendous amount of emails each day – write a DM on Instagram instead. Be yourself and respectful, and the rest will hopefully follow.
Make sure you can offer something back. If you find a person you look up to, who agrees to meet with you – buy their coffee or pay for lunch (if you have the possibility). Perhaps you can offer advice both ways. Most people are nice and likes to help, but when being busy people become selective and meetings without a personal purpose often gets the lower priority. Make it worth their while!
Be patient and remember that one thing will lead to another. Meeting the one right person could lead you to the next, who will lead you to five new people, who will lead you to ten new people and so on.
Finally, don’t be afraid. It’s when you dare to scary things that you will grow.