It takes a village to build a career in the journalism industry. Literally.
According to Asbury Park Press’ features strategist, Jamila Robinson, networking is key in the journalism realm, as much of the business is relationship driven.
“You have to share your content with editors, go to workshops and share your blog posts with online groups of journalists,” Robinson said. “One of the key ways those connections form is by getting to know the people who are sitting around you.”
This could not be more true for freelance writer and self-proclaimed networking animal, Michele Amabile Angermiller, whose clients currently include the Hollywood Reporter, Billboard Magazine and Rolling Stone Magazine.
Aware of her aspirations of becoming a journalist, Angermiller began her career by studying at Ryder University where she always maintained a high level of involvement in journalism-related projects. She kicked off her freshman year in college with her very own radio show, freelanced for small local papers and contributed to the campus’ magazines, all of which led to her vigorous freelance career today.
“I did a lot of networking when I was younger,” Angermiller said. “You have to be forward. You have to get over that fear. If you really want the job, it can happen.”
Such was the case for Angermiller who landed a gig at ABC after merely meeting a woman on the red carpet as they covered the Jingle Ball together. While on location, the freelancer recalled speaking with the reporter about writing reviews for “American Idol.” A few months down the road the same woman missed a conference call she was scheduled to report on and therefore, asked Angermiller to share her notes. In return, the reporter later reached out to Angermiller and recommended her to fill in for a staff member at ABC.
“Getting work is basically about your relationships and who you meet,” Angermiller confirmed.
However, for Robinson this is not completely accurate. As the editor of the Asbury Park Press and affiliated papers who oversees entertainment and features content, it’s not just who you know. Instead, what you know matters to the same degree.
“It’s not just enough to say ‘I like this show’ or ‘I like this meal,'” Robinson added. “You really have to have quite a bit of expertise to cover the arts.”
Along with expertise, Robinson looks for writers who maintain a distinct voice throughout their writing and for those who have the ability to validate their experience to their readers. A critic must also be someone who will challenge her and the status quo, according to Robinson.
However, more importantly, the editor looks for writers that can build an audience and be relatable to all types of people, a writer who is open to different arts, genres and ideas.
“People with an expertise in a genre tend to stay in their genre. It’s important to get outside and talk to other people,” Robinson said. “You have to educate yourself in other quirky genres to be relatable to all types of people.”
According to the well-networked journalist, leading a successful career involves having a multicultural group of friends that you can share ideas with. Having this group of friends is the perfect piece of the equation as not only will you be expanding the “who you know,” but the “what you know as well.”