Network like a professional: Texas State students get useful tips during final Mass Comm Week panel

By Jessy Garza (jag391@txstate.edu)

For Texas State University’s final panel at Mass Comm Week, Justin Johnson came to speak with students Thursday afternoon about the importance of networking, and how doing so could change a person’s life.

Moderating the event was Texas State SJMC lecturer Holly Wise, who said she met Johnson last year and invited him to this year’s Mass Comm Week.

Justin Johnson speaks to students during Texas State’s annual Mass Comm Week about how networking has benefited him and how it can benefit others. Photo by Jessy Garza
Justin Johnson speaks to students during Texas State’s annual Mass Comm Week about how networking has benefited him and how it can benefit others. Photo by Jessy Garza

Johnson, who currently works for Facebook Professional Services, said that in 2015, he took a chance and emailed Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, with feedback on her latest book. Only a few days later, she replied to him.

“I was kind of taken aback,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘is this real?’ ‘Is this an automated message?’”

From there, he became a blogger for the news source and expressed the importance of stepping out of one’s comfort zone by reaching out and making oneself known to others.

“It’s crazy to think that one email to Arianna Huffington really changed the way I perceived communication but also networking,” Johnson said. “There’s opportunities out there, but they’re in people.”

His point shows through in a survey conducted by Right Management, where data was taken from 59,133 clients they advised over the course of three years. In 2010, 41 percent of those clients said they got the job through networking.

When a student asked for advice on how to be remembered by employers when networking, Johnson encouraged the audience to “let them talk” and listen to what they have to say.

“To be interesting, you need to be interested,” Johnson said.

For soon-to-be Texas State graduates, Johnson advised students to take more time for themselves and enjoy college life for the opportunities it affords, saying that he regrets not doing so himself.

“As you graduate and move on from university life, it actually gets a little more difficult to make friends,” Johnson said. “I think the thing that’s important…(is) just being open and making the effort because there are a lot of opportunities that are presented to you (at university.)”

Erik Rodriguez, public relations senior at Texas State, said that he found Johnson’s presentation very helpful and compared Johnson to “a young Dale Carnegie.” He said that Johnson helped him understand the importance of “being a better you” and “knowing what your brand stands for.”

“As long as you’re being kind of a social engineer and communicating with different people, opportunities are going to come,” Rodriguez said.

Another PR senior, Mary Edmon, said that she made the decision to attend Johnson’s panel because she knew that personal branding and having a social media presence would be important to her career goals.

“I’m getting ready to graduate in December,” Edmon said. “So I’m trying to make that transition from a student to a professional.”

Near the end of the panel, Johnson retold a quote that he said he lives by when it comes to networking and putting oneself out there.

“Doubt your doubts, believe in your beliefs,” Johnson said. “Never stop being afraid to go and introduce yourself to someone.”

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