By Jairo Devora
As the age of technology continues to expand and evolve, something as simple as introducing yourself can impact your life forever, as it did for one Facebook networking professional.
San Antonio native and University of Texas alumnus, Justin Johnson, is a networking professional based in Austin who, through Facebook, “manages different companies’ business models” and expands their respective brands using different networking strategies.
Although it may seem difficult to network and connect with strangers, Johnson says that “opportunities are in people,” and that asking yourself “what can I do with my time to make me stand out?” and “how can I find and make opportunities for myself?” through those connections is a great strategy for success in any career.
Johnson got his start in Facebook by responding to an ad he saw on his homepage thinking that the position was one that he was interested in and one that he could do well by applying his networking skills.
“I wanted to do things that matter, that will make an impact on the community and the world,” Johnson said, referencing why he chose to work for Facebook as a career. “It allowed me to have a personal brand.”
Walking up to a potential employer isn’t always easy, however. Knowing what to say doesn’t always come naturally, and talking about yourself isn’t always the best strategy.
“To be interesting, you have to be interested,” Johnson said, in answering one student’s question on the best way to introduce yourself to a person of interest. “Understanding who that person is is what’s most important. All you have to do is listen.”
Kayla Haack, a senior public relations major who was in the audience, said that Johnson’s presentation was inspiring and that it has changed her mind on the idea of networking and how it works.
“People in my family say it all the time – network, network, network,” Haack said. “But I never really paid attention. After today, I’m taking that advice to heart.”
Haack said that so far Johnson’s presentation has been her favorite because of how easy it was to relate to him while he was speaking, mentioning that he has a very genuine, down to earth personality.
While it’s important to always present oneself in a professional manner, Johnson said that it’s also critical to think about “what others are saying when you’re not around,” mentioning the importance of staying true to one’s words and actions.
“Stay consistent – mean what you say, mean what you do,” Johnson said. “Never be afraid to introduce yourself to someone.”
Jessy Garza, a junior journalism major who was also present at the event, said that she was leaving with a new understanding of what networking means.
“I feel like I have a better idea of how networking works,” Garza said. “I shouldn’t be afraid to be myself, people want to see who you are.”
Garza said that she has depended on connections and luck to receive certain opportunities, rather than focusing on her personal brand.
“I’m the editor-in-chief for Odyssey Online here at Texas State,” Garza said. “But I got that position thanks to someone that I know.”
Garza mentioned that she is now going to start working on improving her personal brand in order to appeal to potential employers and that Johnson’s presentation was “life changing,” inspiring her to pursue her dreams of traveling through Asia and telling stories that are often left unheard.
For students who graduate within the next few months, the idea of going out into the “real world” may seem like a scary task, but setting personal goals for oneself – whether daily, weekly, monthly or annually – can help with accomplishing tasks that may otherwise seem impossible. Johnson said that he sets personal goals for himself often, never being afraid to overcome life’s difficult situations.
“When faced with a difficult situation, I overcome it,” Johnson said. “That’s the only option I give myself.”