Alicia Thompson, Susan Rosenberg and Alyssa Stafford hosted an inspirational sensational session titled “Shaking Hands With the Right People: Tips For Networking” at the PRSSA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This session covered a variety different ways to network efficiently and how to present yourself when interacting with professionals and colleagues.
To start off the session Rosenberg stated, “Networking is getting ahead.” The remainder of the hour was focused solely on that statement. To “get ahead” of your competition you need to do a multitude of things. The first way to get ahead is by being curious about other people and wanting to know more about them.
You want to make a lasting impression on every person you meet; something that is easy for each person is to talk about themselves – so let them do just that. When you’re curious about others, find out what they want you to uncover about them. Different highlights of their personality, specific interests or just some different things about them are the things that you could find and use later to connect with them. After connecting with someone write down different notes and things to remember them by. Send them a LinkedIn request, but absolutely never have the generalized request; put something specific in the request so they remember you.
While actively networking there are a few things you can do to make yourself standout to others:
- When meeting with professionals you would like to connect with, asking questions about the industry is always a hit. This can serve as an icebreaker. By doing this you are showing interest in what they do and displaying your eagerness to learn about the profession. After asking the question, be sure to actively listen to their response. Their answer can provide you with just the right advice for launching your perfect career.
- Do your homework before talking to a professional – make Google your best friend. There is no harm is finding out information before going to meet someone. You could find something interesting out about them that that could serve as your starting question.
- Make eye contact, get rid of your phone and be attentive. You want to present yourself in the most professional and respectful way possible. If you are sitting on your phone, slouched, that says numerous negative things about you.
- Networking is just like interviewing; you are finding out who they are and what they do. These connections can lead you anywhere – future jobs, internships and colleagues. These connections can take you down numerous paths, so do not discredit them.
- Work the room and spend time with people you do not know instead of clinging to your friends and classmates. This is your time to broaden your network, so do it—whether it is at a conference, social or a speaker presentation.
- Transparency, authenticity and honesty are key. These are the foundation of letting people get to know you – the real, genuine you. Being who you truly are will allow potential employers and colleagues to see your passion and interests.
- Be respectful of others’ time, as it is valuable. By being courteous of other’s time, you will leave a good and lasting impression. After you have spoken to them in person, contact them via email. This can lead to a more in-depth conversation and a strong connection.
- Take the word “like” out of your language; it is a word that has no need – just get rid of it.
- Confidence is great; when expanding your network be confident in yourself and in your questions. Make your diction shine and your questions intriguing. This will boost your confidence immensely.
- Do not be afraid of a phone call from a potential employer or colleague. After you have networked with someone, do not be afraid of continuing the conversation on the phone. Believe it or not, email is not always the way someone prefers to continue to communicate. Some people still prefer the traditional phone call instead of the new-age technology.
Take these tools and expand your network because you never know who you are going to meet and where this connection can lead you.
Chelsey Withers is junior public relations and sports broadcasting/information dual major. She serves as the high school intiative presentation coordinator for Waynesburg University PRSSA, as well as administrative assistant and an account executive for Red Brick Communications. She is also serves an editorial assistant for the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She hopes to work in media relations for college athletics or for a professional sports team after graduation.