By Ben Finzel, President and Founder, RENEWPR
Earlier this year, my friend Shonali Burke did me the great honor of nominating me for the PRSA National Capital Chapter Hall of Fame. And this summer, the nominating committee selected me for induction. It’s a great honor and one of which I’m immensely proud (thanks again, Shonali!). But let’s be clear: just because I’ve been around for a while doesn’t mean I have all of the answers. Or even some of them. I think it just means I’ve learned which questions to ask. And that really is half the battle, which is something else I’ve learned. Knowing what to ask, who to ask and what to do with the information you gain from the answers is really helpful in understanding how to be an effective communications counselor.
With that lesson in mind, here are a few other things I’ve learned in the past 30+ years:
- It’s what you know AND who you know. Knowledge and insight get results. Connections get you in the door. In Washington (and likely everywhere) you need both. Knowing what to do but not knowing the people who can help you do it doesn’t get you very far. And knowing who to contact but not what to do once you’ve done that doesn’t either. Spend time cultivating a network of friends, colleagues, and collaborators you can help who can also help you. And focus on learning everything you can (and asking questions!) so that you have the knowledge and insight to build a successful career.
- More people will remember you than you remember. You’ll meet a lot of people in the course of your career. Many will remember you – for the good and bad things you’ve done – even if you don’t remember them. Try to make the list of good things you’ve done bigger than the list of bad things you’ve done so that they remember you well. This will be helpful in your career more times than you realize.
- Help the people coming up behind you. Take time to have that introductory conversation with the daughter of a friend of a friend who is looking for a job in PR. Review the resume of new college graduates who networked their way to you to ask you for insight. Share job leads with people looking for work who may not have access to the same kinds of information you do. It all helps and it’s all appreciated!
Bottom line: collaboration, cooperation and common sense will take you far.
My thanks to the PRSA National Capital Chapter for this honor of a lifetime. I will be forever grateful.