Networking – a word that can give someone an uneasy feeling. Being students that are interested in the public relations field, we hear the word network repeatedly. “This event would be a great networking opportunity” or “Networking with professionals is a way to get your name out there” are just a few examples we will hear throughout or college and professional careers. Networking is actually a simpler concept than one would perceive. It is all about building genuine, authentic relationships with people.
Networking can happen anytime and anywhere. Whether you are at a big business conference among many professionals or at the store getting groceries, an opportunity to network can arise. In order to become an effective networker and communicator in the public relations industry, it is important to keep a few tips in mind.
Again, networking is about building genuine, authentic relationships with people. The key word here is authentic. When networking with someone, you want to be as genuine and authentic with the person as you can. With this, you will build trust and a relationship with the person – this could benefit you both in the future.
Engage on social media
One of the largest communication channels to network today is social media. It is important to make sure your social media pages are appealing to future employers. There should not be any content on your pages that could take you away from getting a potential job or client. In addition, a simple way to network on social media is just reconnect with old friends. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter make that simple. A website dedicated solely the purpose of networking is LinkedIn. Always “link” with professionals on LinkedIn and make sure you keep your profile updated. LinkedIn is an exceptional website to use, and it makes networking easy.
Again, networking can happen at any time. An easy way to share your information with someone that you are networking with is handing them a business card. Never leave your home without them. Any ‘per chance’ meeting is an opportunity to give out a business card. When giving out a card, ask for one in return. This makes the person you are networking with feel important and also builds a relationship. Always remember to follow up with the person you networked with. Sending them a quick email, saying you enjoyed meeting them, will get the ball moving forward.
Keep expanding your network
Public relations is a field that is fast-paced and always changing, and with that, you need to be always willing to learn and adapt. Networking is an easy way to give you access to knowledge. The more people you network with, the larger your network will be. With that, the people in your network will most likely come from a large variety of backgrounds, and they will have different range of perspectives that will be useful to you in your profession, and will help you grow as a successful public relations professional.
Public relations is strongly based on building mutually beneficial relationships. Essentially, networking is something that structures the profession. There are always opportunities to network, and you should never turn down an opportunity to get your name out. Networking is a valuable professional asset, and if done correctly, could connect you with a potential employer or client. Always remember connections can lead to more connections. Continue networking so that you can strive to be a successful employee in the public relations field.
Taylor White is currently a junior at Waynesburg University studying public relations and minoring in marketing. She serves as the special events coordinator for WUPRSSA and is active in other campus activities. You can typically find Taylor laughing with friends, listening to music, taking photos or attending the university sporting events. After graduation, Taylor hopes to pursue a job in special events planning or fundraising.