As a Disney pro wannabe, I’m really impressed by anyone who currently works in public relations for the company. These professionals don’t merely serve as my idols; they are my mentors who help open doors to new ideas and experiences. Would you like to find some Disney gurus too? Yes? Then there’s one word you need to know: networking.
According to businessdictionary.com, networking is “creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit.” I know that seems like a tall order, so I’ve decided to simplify it a bit. Here are my five easy steps to Disney networking.
Step 1: Research
First, you have to find Disney employees who work in an area you’re interested in. There are a few places to look, but a good place to start is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals; you can search names, companies, positions and more. If you search something like “Disney zoologist,” a few LinkedIn members pop up as animal keepers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
If you’re a PR major like me, you have it a bit easier. I start by visiting any of Disney’s official newsrooms. More often than not, a media relations professional will be listed as a contact at the bottom of press releases. Not only do press releases give you contact names, they also typically provide other contact information like email addresses and phone numbers.
Step 2: Reach Out
Now that you’ve found a few Disney employees you’re interested in networking with, it’s time to reach out to them. I always like to start out with an email requesting an informational interview either in person or over the phone. What’s an informational interview? It’s a chance for you to pick a professional’s brain about anything relating to her job or industry. (We’ll get into more of that in Step 3.)
In your initial email, you want to be professional, but don’t forget to be yourself. I like to introduce myself, write about where I go to school and what I’m studying, and write about why I wanted to talk to the Disney pro. Also, always give the professionals an out on the informational interview so you don’t sound too presumptuous. For example, say, “I know you are very, very busy at Disney, but I was wondering if you had a few minutes to talk to me over the phone in the next couple of weeks.”
Your biggest advantage is being a student. Work it, and don’t be afraid to reach out!
Step 3: Interview
So here’s your big chance! You’ve gotten in contact with a Disney professional, and you’re one step closer to adding her to your network. Now’s your chance to really wow her. Ask her about her work, her college career, her career aspirations, anything you’re interested in learning about her life. But don’t forget to ask for advice, too. I commonly ask professionals what I should specialize in (media relations, social media, event planning, etc.) and whether they think grad school is worthwhile for a PR major. You can learn a lot from these Disney pros, so ask away!
Step 4: Thank
If you are ever in contact with a Disney pro for any reason, say, “thank you.” Whether it’s an email or written note, always leave the professional with a good impression. She is taking time out of her day to talk to you or respond to your emails, so you can take time to write a quick “thank you.”
Step 5: Keep In Touch
Once you’ve finished your big interview and have written your thank you note, you don’t want to fall off the face of the planet. You want to be fresh in the mind of the Disney pro…You never know; she might hear about a job opening and recommend you!
Here are a few ways you can keep in touch with your new Disney mentor:
- Interact with her on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter)
- Send her holiday cards
- Share interesting blog posts with her
- Email her a question every couple of months
And that’s it! Those are my five easy steps to Disney networking! If you want to view a presentation about networking produced by Disney, visit the Heroes Work Here Disney site.
Disney pros are really, very nice. After all, they were students once, too. So go forth and network! It could just help you land your first job at Disney.
If you want to read a little bit about what I learned from my informational interview with former Disney pro David Gill, check out Leaving the Company.