What 13 Communications Experts Wish They’d Known When They Started

Think back to when you started in your communications career. How did you get from a complete beginner to where you are today? It’s likely that someone with more industry experience inspired and motivated you along the way, sharing valuable advice and insight you couldn’t get anywhere else.

The experts of Forbes Communications Council have years of expertise to share with industry newbies. So we asked 13 of them to share their best advice for new communications employees and future leaders just starting out in their chosen field. Here is what they said:

Members share a few things they wish they’d known when they were first starting out.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Break The Rules

For a creative field, it can appear that marketing has a lot of rules to follow. You’ll hear marketers talk about B2C or B2B tactics as if they are two fields that are completely separate and shouldn’t mix. Ironically enough, one successful initiative we used was a supposedly “exclusively” B2C tactic for a B2B product. Don’t be afraid to experiment—you might just surprise yourself. – Patrick Ward, High Speed Experts

2. Stay Curious And Inquisitive

The event entertainment field is full of many personality types, and while sometimes it seems like taking a back seat might be easier, I suggest that people be curious and inquisitive. Ask lots of questions and be somewhat forward because networking is key to making lasting connections and learning the ways of the industry. You never know who you might meet or where the road might take you. – Wayne Leeloy, G7 Marketing

3. Appreciate Constructive Criticism

Accept early on that you don’t know what you don’t know, so be intentional about seeking the perspectives of those who have been in your shoes before you. Appreciate constructive criticism—it will only make you a stronger professional. Oh, and that written piece that you think is perfect and ready to go? Look at it again with fresh eyes. Nine times out of 10, you’ll see something you missed. – Karla Larraga, Champions School of Real Estate

4. Put Yourself In Your Customer’s Shoes

Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes and this will tell you everything you need to know. Make this a permanent practice in every position. This will teach you how to identify gaps in your processes, fix friction points that your customers are having and truly be the voice of the customer. – James Gilbert, CloudCherry

5. Never Stop Learning

There are going to be projects that will bore you throughout your career. The key is to find a way to educate yourself in the process. Every job is free education, so make the most of it. Find ways to apply for your role, even the things that put you to sleep, to further yourself professionally and personally. You’ll thank yourself when you give this same advice to your associates in the future. – Jason Wolfson, VuPulse

6. Take A Long-Term View Of Your Relationships

Once upon a time, people started their ad careers as lowly assistants on Madison Avenue and worked their way to the top over the decades. These days, the industry is far more dynamic. Someone who works for you today could be your client or your boss in a few short years. Take a long-term view of every relationship. Invest in people and be nice to everyone, whether senior or junior. – Seema Kumar, servicechannel.com

7. Always Explore Cutting-Edge Trends

In my very first startup, I was building our business on the back of early SEO and social media platforms. I was told by university professors and industry veterans that it was not “real marketing.” I knew in my gut they were wrong and explored new trends and ideas. I always encourage new associates to do the same. Learning to explore, fail and pivot is as important as anything. – Tyler Bishop, Ezoic

8. Seek Diverse Experiences To Find Your Perfect Fit

The world of marketing and communications is vast with countless opportunities across industries and functions. When you are starting out, seek to diversify your experience to see where you are both skilled and passionate. By doing this, you may find that you end up in a role that is completely different from where you started; however, you will have more fun and a great chance of positive impact. – Alyssa Kleinman, CipherHealth

9. You Don’t Have To Climb To The Top Of The Ladder

Everyone has different goals and needs. Not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder. It’s fine to take a job that leaves evenings free to take care of your kids. It’s great to learn an instrument, be in a play, participate in a sport, etc. Maybe you enjoy your current position and have no interest in management. That’s OK. Understanding this makes you a better employee and a happier person. – Holly Chessman, GlowTouch Technologies

10. Prioritize Your Work-Life Balance

I failed miserably at work-life balance when starting my career. I feel new graduates often feel they must work 18-hour days to “prove” themselves. Then, when they work their way to the top, they struggle with a healthy balance. Start out with priorities now of work and home life. New associates shouldn’t “claw their way out” of excessive hours to be successful out the gate. – Brittany White, Apple Growth Partners

11. Learn From History

Successful marketers are always on the lookout for new tools and channels to reach our audiences. But this can lead to a tendency to ignore “old-school” initiatives because they aren’t as exciting. Truly effective marketers leverage more traditional marketing methods even as they add new initiatives to the mix. Keeping history in mind when planning for the future can be a key to success. – Tom Wozniak, OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC

12. Build Your Community

Relationships are key in our world. You must make a habit to continuously build a community of incredible professionals around you that can you can create a mutually beneficial partnership with. It all starts with a coffee and showing initiative. When meeting people, always try to meet them in different places. It allows you to build a stronger relationship and foster better ideas. – Hasnain Raza, Market One Media Group Inc.

13. Quality Over Quantity Wins Every Time

Whether you are pitching stories, developing media relationships or creating content and messaging, focus on quality over quantity and build with the long term in mind instead of short-term victories and shallow experiences. It will make your job easier, and you’ll set yourself up for bigger wins down the road. – Charlie Terenzio, Revcontent

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