Taylor Shold: Tell us a little about yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Anne Vranic: Hey there! I’m a public relations and branding pro who moonlights as a commercial and film actor. You can check out my company’s website at www.MachinaPR.com.
Taylor: How has networking helped your career?
Anne: It’s no surprise that networking can be viewed as a “dirty word”. I used to cringe at the thought of showing up to an event alone and making small talk with strangers, or worse potential employers. In my mind, it is basically the Bachelor (which is my other great fear): 20+ outspoken, attractive employees per employer, all with an agenda and rehearsed elevator pitch.
While there is definitely a place for networking hubs and events, and I give serious kudos to people who work those rooms, I also encourage people to view networking as a non-linear entity. Networking is what you make it to be, and I don’t think it needs to be confined to conference centre walls. There are ways to connect with future mentors/employers in a more intimate setting – and it all starts with asking. Talk to people in your existing network, your alma mater and your social networks. Your current place of employment can also be a huge asset: explore job shadowing someone within your department or in another department that interests you. There are also external organizations like the WXN.
I believe mentoring/mentee’ing is just as important while you’re employed; it’s a missed opportunity to wait until you are “on the hunt” and have to act out of desperation versus curiosity and self development. Networking goes way beyond a handshake and a job pitch – it’s about making connections, information sharing, learning best practices and hopefully creating lasting relationships.
Once you make a connection, or better yet land a meeting or long-term mentor, it’s important to make it worthwhile for you and them:
1. Research – Ahhh the magic of google. Research who you are meeting; the company they work for; any awards/publications they’ve been a part of; and where you might see yourself within the company.
2. Ask thoughtful questions – While everyone loves to talk about themselves, people’s time is valuable. Showing you’ve done your homework and value that person’s time will go a long way.
3. Follow-up and keep in touch.
LinkedIn is the networking tool I use the most (and now I know you, Taylor!) You can follow employers/brands, create and join groups, and “cold call” people whose career path interests you.
Taylor: How can someone stand out or really brand themselves well?
Anne: Be your authentic self, i.e. “Do You”. This is something I really honed in on and learned through my acting experience, but it can be applied to most creative professions. People that make a mark aren’t always the most organized, learned, attractive – they bring a unique perspective and don’t mirror everyone else. Many people have degrees; many people have post-graduate degrees, but no-one is you. Highlight who you are and what you’re good at, and show that sh#t off – on your website, your social pages, and your resume.
Taylor: Who’s someone in the industry you look up to?
Anne: I look up to, and value, strong, intelligent women who take risks, exercise humility, authenticity and have a sense of humour. I could rhyme off at least 10 people in my immediate circle who provide this type of support and inspiration for me alongside 10 that comprise my dream squad – here’s looking at you Michelle Obama. In terms of how I approach my work life, Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!) provided a quote in recent years that I can certainly relate to, and encourage other women to practice:
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do”; “That feeling at the end of the day, where you’re like, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ I realized that sometimes when you have that feeling and you push through it, something really great happens.”
Taylor: How did you land current gig, do you have any advice to share?
Anne: Neither my high school nor University promoted or specialized in the Creative Arts, Communications and design fields, so I discovered this field via trial by error and research. I knew from an early age that I loved the creative process, and had a knack for writing, research and idea generation. During the second year of my Undergrad, I emailed a handful of alum from my high school (through their amazing online networking tool), and one of the alum connected me with a travel writer who was looking for a paid intern. The job consisted of writing and editing travel articles and building the brand’s social media presence. I continued working for the Editor-in-Chief remotely during the school year, but eventually decided I wanted a more “formal” internship in Toronto during the summer of my third year.
I applied to a PR agency, a prominent broadcaster, and a music publication and landed at the former: Holmes PR. For me, it came down to the work culture: it’s a medium-sized, family-run business. During my internship interview, there were dogs running around, people listening to music in the open concept area, and everyone was encouraged to brainstorm and idea-share. I felt like I won the lottery. I ended up staying there for three years (paid, thank god) and completing my final school credits online.
I believe I learned more in my first two months as an intern than I would have in a specialized program. It was the hard knocks school of PR. My experience at Holmes PR led me to my subsequent position as Senior Publicist at Global TV, and now as a freelance PR professional. During those seven years growing my career, I built a great network along with substantial experience across many markets – food, fashion, theatre, TV, film. I knew I wasn’t ready to leave all of that behind, but also needed to explore other creative pursuits in a less formal environment. So, I decided to start my own company, and spend my free time writing and auditioning.
Taylor: Finally, what is your best advice for someone looking to get into the industry?
Anne: The Arts & Entertainment industry is competitive, small and in many ways, a tight-knit family. Like any job, some of it is who you know, but a lot of it is about passion for the business and as a result, the drive to make an impact, and the perseverance to maintain a positive attitude during those early mornings and late nights. Many media jobs (and definitely PR) are unpredictable, involve long hours and can – at times – be thankless. At its best, the job is an adrenaline-fueled ride with some of the most creative, inspiring and righteous people out there. It’s a job with no limits and is constantly changing and evolving. If this sounds appealing, then work hard and you’ll get out what you put in.
Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door, and learn if it’s the right field for you. I recommend interning at a small agency where you’ll get the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, and start building a portfolio.
You can follow Anne on Twitter @AnneVranic
For more great articles, features and job postings, follow us on Twitter @SholdMediaGroup
Join Shold Media Group
Joining the Shold Media Group and getting connected with other young media professionals is simple. All you need to do is ‘LIKE’ SMG on Facebook and ‘Follow’ SMG on Twitter. Once you do that, you’ll have all the great articles, videos, event invites and much more delivered right to you. Click the links below to Join.