Networking is important for any young professional, but especially for those in a field like public relations. Knowing the right people in the industry can be a huge benefit for landing new client work, job opportunities, referrals, mentoring or having insider intel. In fact, a study conducted by The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that 85% of jobs are filled by networking!
The opportunity to network can happen at any PR event or conference, so make sure to take advantage of these moments when they present themselves. Aside from attending networking events in person, thanks to the internet you’re now able to network right from home! LinkedIn is one of the most popular sites when it comes to business networking; adding past internship contacts, professors, employers and colleagues can be a great start to building your online connections. If you’re interviewing for a job at a company, don’t be afraid to connect with one of their current employees and strike up a conversation on their experience with the company and what got them to their current position.
When networking it’s important to make yourself memorable. Being prepared can help you feel confident in your interactions and help relationships form naturally. Follow these tips:
- Make authentic connections: Creating lasting impressions is the main goal. This will come easier if you take time to talk and get to know the person versus a brief chat. Try to see how you could both benefit from the connection and find shared goals and interests to strike up a conversation.
- Show people what you can do for them: While you may be tempted to be forward about your intentions whether it is to land a job or an interview, offering your help instead will make them want to help you in return. Remember, networking should be mutually beneficial for both parties.
- Let the other party speak: Make sure to come prepared with a few questions to ask the other party about their work/company. If you take over most of the conversation, you leave no room for them to share any advice, feedback or questions they may have for you. Asking questions like these can help the other person feel like you’re interested in what they have to say:
- How long have you been with the company?
- What type of training did you need for this position?
- How is the culture of the company?
- Follow-up: The chances that the person you are trying to connect with is also being pursued by several other people are high. Especially at a networking event, it can be hard to keep track of who is who. Getting their email or connecting with them on LinkedIn and sending them a message shortly after you’ve met can help secure a lasting impression.
While your skillset is important, building a strong network of those in your field and making a name for yourself can be a huge advantage for your professional career down the road. Remember to be confident in your work and practice presenting yourself, and you’ll have no trouble gaining connections.