I once sat on a networking panel specifically tailored to college students entering their first jobs. When we did a networking test run, the room was filled with nervous energy as each student practiced their elevator speeches, eagerly thrusting their business cards to each other to see who could draw them the quickest. I thought to myself, “well, that’s one way to do it!”
No matter how you choose to build your network, doing so is a key component to enhancing your career and your personal and professional relationships. While it can appear to be daunting, PR networking can pay off and easily work for you if you take a few key steps.
Tell Them Who You Are
While we all come to networking events equipped with our business cards, which list our skills and talents (from SEO and social media to PR and a love of cats), it’s up to us to effectively communicate who we are. We hate the question “what do you do?” but it’s the most commonly used icebreaker to guide the conversation.
I’m sure you can think of a number of ways to communicate what you do, but figure out your audience and cater to them. If you are a PR professional, perhaps mention some of the media hits you’ve garnered and how much you love cold-calling reporters. Inc suggests 7 networking tips that can help, including asking for an introduction and setting time limits. Be yourself but also let people know what you have to offer, and you’ll find that they will do the same.
Keep In Touch
This tip sounds pretty obvious, but it is so easy to fall out of touch with your connections if you don’t actively make an effort to maintain the communication. Try sending monthly emails just to say ‘hello’ or share some relevant news.
Or, why not take it a tiny step further by staying in the know of what’s going on in your network? Try out Newsle, which gives you a heads up when your contact has either written an article/blog or been featured in the news. There’s nothing better than getting a valuable message with 100% relevant information or a timely “congrats!” Last month we wrote a post about Klear, another great tool to build your network online through your social platforms.
And while you’re keeping in touch, enhance your network by connecting your contacts. If you know a new contact is looking for an affordable graphic designer and you happened to work with one a year ago, this is your opening to sending some key and much needed intro emails. No matter how you stay in touch, always be consistent and offer something of value.
Figure Out What Works For You
Remember those nervous college kids flashing their business cards left and right? A few of them asked me for the perfect formula for networking as if I had the secret antidote for their fears. PRDaily has some great tips you can use to craft and enhance your own networking style. Everything doesn’t work for everyone. Some people tell stories, others like to stick with their friends and some folks really love passing out business cards. I tend to break the ice by complimenting people (and meaning it) or asking someone a simple question like “Where are you from?” Everyone has a story. Find out what it is and how you can connect with that person.
If you get anxiety from networking events, you can get your PR networking done online instead. Here at Belle Communications, we network and help others connect through our “Nice To Tweet You” series. Check out which PR professionals we have listed to follow in August and make a new connection.
How Big Is Your Network?
There’s an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” There is so much value in building a quality network, and the more you nurture your network, the more you’ll find that it can end up working for you.
How have you grown your professional relationships with networking? Let us know in the comments below!