Dear Younger Self: Advice from LinkedIn's Meghann Barber
About the author: Megan is a NYC-based marketer who currently works at a Health and Wellness Agency, Wellness Amplified, that focuses on strategically connecting brands with health-minded influencers. She's passionate about digital marketing and loves writing + creative storytelling. When she's not working she enjoys running and training for races, being with friends and family, and chasing PR's on her Peloton.
Job searching can be overwhelming. Starting at a first job can be as well. The good news? It doesn’t have to be and you don’t have to do it alone. In our ‘Dear Future Self’ series we’re speaking with professionals from varying backgrounds who’ve been through it all.
For the inaugural post we spoke to total boss, Meghann Barber, from LinkedIn. We challenged her to think deep into about her experiences and share what she’s learned along the way.
Meghann Barber, Media Solutions Consultant at LinkedIn
I've had a lot of exciting roles within tech startups from being a Community Manager interacting with customers on brand Facebook pages, to being part of a Recruitment team and developing a summer internship program, to working in Influencer Marketing and building a team in my company's London office. Now I work for LinkedIn in Dublin where I support our Sales teams as they sell media products to help hire top talent.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
You don't have to have a roadmap! I remember being so concerned about my career choices when I first graduated and when I moved from my first company to my second. Would I really want to work in Marketing forever? Did it matter that I hadn't stayed in my first role for 2 years? As long as you're working hard and you keep an open mind, you'll end up right where you belong. I also might tell younger Meg that she was going to get to live abroad...I don't know if she'd believe me, but I think she'd be excited 🤩.
What personal advice would you give to your younger self?
Your job isn't the only important thing in your life. I put a lot of pressure on myself to work hard and to focus on my career, but a lot of times that meant sacrificing things that were important to me like strengthening friendships or going to the gym. Now I make sure to prioritize the things that will make me a happy, well-rounded human. If I need to decline a 5:30 PM meeting so I can make a gym class, I do so without a second thought. The work will always be there, but your health and happiness take effort, too.
How do you decide when it's time to make a job switch/pivot in your career?
I've always followed my gut feelings. The first time I made a job move it wasn't because I didn't like my job. It was because my job was easy and I was doing it without much thought. When a newer, more challenging role came available at a friend's company, I jumped at the chance to take a risk and push myself out of my comfort zone. The opportunity to move to London was a similar example. I could have managed a large team in New York and was on track for a promotion, but I decided that the chance to live somewhere new and develop skills in a new market would be more valuable to me than the experiences I'd have if I stayed in NYC.
How do I get good references? Or even ask for it?
In my experience, good people want to see other good people succeed. It might feel daunting to ask someone for a reference, but they're usually more than happy to do so. Try to make it as easy as possible for the person. For example, search for a few key questions or share a couple of projects that you've worked with this person on. That way, you can provide them with a framework for their reference, making it a less time consuming task and helping to get them in the right frame of mind. Good references can come from anywhere, whether it's a peer, a mentor, or a previous manager.
How to politely follow up with someone who hasn't responded to your email?
I will always look for one additional piece of information I can include. For example, instead of following up with, "Have you seen my email?" I'll say something like, "Hope you've been well. I wanted to follow up on my previous email and share this article that I recently saw around Employer Branding. Please let me know if you have time to catch up next week."
How do you deal with office politics? Or what's the MO on getting involved or not?
I try to avoid office politics when possible. You'll always have a bit of this and it's best to understand what's going on, while remaining neutral. You don't want to get yourself into a situation where something you say can then be used against you in another conversation. I will often change the subject if a conversation feels it's getting too political or gossipy.
How can I stand out in a male-dominated industry?
This is a hard one! I always try to make sure that I speak with confidence and that I stick to my points of view. This has allowed me to work well with male colleagues and I've earned respect for knowing what's important and keeping a focus on how to best drive a business forward. I'm very lucky to have been surrounded by strong female leaders throughout my career, which has helped to elevate my personal brand, as well. If you can find a manager or mentor who is already making a name for herself, see what you can learn from her, too.
How do I network with people without being too superficial?
Try to find common ground whether that's work related or on more of a personal level. For example, I got on really well with one of the interviewers for my current role because we both love running. At one point during the interview, it didn't feel like an interview because we were actually talking about cool places to run around London. This same approach can get you far in networking situations. You can approach people based on something that you might have in common or a project that you're both passionate about. If you're looking to network with someone that you haven't met before, be concise and grateful in your outreach so they know you value their time and you're looking to gain insights from them.
How do you say no as a junior person on the team to your boss/employer?
If you work in a healthy workplace, your boss or employer should respect the fact that you're saying no. Whenever I'm going to push back on something that has come from my manager, I make sure I have the data or information to backup my point. I'll never say, "No," without coming to the table with a clear reason as to why I'm declining and a proposed solution or different course of action. This will show your boss or employer that you're thinking strategically and looking to make the best business decision as opposed to saying no just to say no.
How do I know much I'm worth with the skillsets I have?
There are a lot of really good resources for this! You can use things like Member Skills on LinkedIn, or Glassdoor reviews and salaries to try to benchmark what similar professionals are doing. This can help you to understand what skills you have that are important, where you might have skill gaps that you could work to fill, and what others are being paid for similar skills.