Networking for Communicators


If you’re in marketing or PR, you probably already know that networking is an important part of your career. For some people this can be perplexing or intimidating. Who should be in your “network”? How do you go about meeting them or keeping in touch? Here are my best answers to those questions:

Who

  • Peers. People you go to school with or that start their careers at the same time as you are probably the easiest  group of people to get to know and stay in touch with. While they might not be the ones hiring you right away, you never know if someone’s career will take off or if they will start their own agency down the line. Plus, you and your peers can share experiences and learn about opportunities to pursue, or avoid.
  • Those with more experience than yourself. This is probably the most obvious. You want to get to know those senior  communication professionals because they offer great advice, make great references, and of course, they are more likely to be hiring.
  • Non-Communicators. It’s not always PR and marketing people that hire PR and marketing people. This point is really what inspired this post thanks to a conversation I had with social media pro, Sam Afetian, yesterday. Business alumni and entrepreneurs are great connections because you never know when they may need some PR or marketing help, whether it is a full-time job or a side gig.
  • Media. If you’re in PR in particular, you probably work with journalists. It will make both your job and theirs a lot easier if you know one another ahead of time. Get to know them and their interests and see what you can do to make their jobs easier. If they recognize your name and know you won’t send them irrelevant crap, they’ll be more likely to open your pitches.

See? Networking can be fun! This is my buddy Patrick and I at PRSA Summer Social. Photo Credit: Tim King Photography (http://www.timkingblog.com)

How

  • Get involved in professional organizations. PRSA, IABC, AMA… these are just a few of the many organizations wherecommunication professionals congregate. Get involved in their events, and online communities.
  • Go to events. Besides going to events held by professional organizations, look at alumni groups, general business networking events or even social events where you may have the opportunity to meet new people. Bring your business cards and don’t forget to follow-up later! If you’re meeting a lot of people, make notes on the cards you receive so you know where you met each person and what you talked about.
  • Use social networking sites. This is likely the easiest and least intimidating way to meet or stay in touch with people. Twitter is always a great way to break the ice with particular people and hashtags provide a way to find those in your industry. LinkedIn is also a great place to chat and learn from others in your profession. Don’t just create an online resume and let it sit until you need a job, participate in groups, share information and engage with your connections!
  • Meet in person and one-on-one. This is my favorite way to get to know people and although it takes time, the connections you make are a lot stronger. After meeting someone at an event, or even online, follow-up and simply say, “hey would you like to meet for coffee?” It really is that simple. I’ve had many coffee dates and they always turn a stranger into a solid acquaintance or an acquaintance into a friend.
  • Be consistent/Stay in touch. Networking isn’t just about finding a job. Not only may you end up looking for a job in the future and need those contacts you’ve neglected, but professional networks serve other purposes. You can learn from them! Learn from the successes and failures of others, learn about opportunities for your clients or learn about industry events or awards.
  • Keep your eyes open. You never know where or when you may meet someone so keep your eyes open and a business card in your wallet!
  • Be giving. When meeting new people, don’t think about how they can help you now or later, think about how you can help them. If you have this attitude, it will reward you in the long run.

Hope these help! And if anyone wants to get coffee, let Blake and I know!

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My 1st Work Conference


This post may be making it up a bit late today but I’m still in a New Orleans-work-conference-hangover-daze. Basically, this is the first week back from a week stay in NOLA, exciting right?

The backdrop for our conference.

To say the least, I was pretty stoked. This was the first time I was invited as part of a job to leave the state (AND BE PAID FOR IT!). So, off I went to the ASBDC 2012 Conference in New Orleans to learn about all things marketing and how to apply it to help my organization. While attending various sessions (and getting tons of free swag) I learned a few things about conference attendance:

1). Make your presentation INTERESTING!

Especially if your session is scheduled for 8 hours (*Ahem*, Google Training Day, *cough*) no matter how cool your swag is, I will fall asleep and resort to scanning my social media channels if your resonation is not interesting! If I can learn more about how to apply your product by Googling you, you’ve failed.

Free food and swag can keep me interested for a while but not forever!

However, I will give shout-outs to Eric Spellmann (@ericspellmann) for his fantastic presentation on the “12 Mistakes on Small Business Websites” and to Herb Lawrence (from @asbtdc_asu) who presented on how to utilize social media to engage both consumers and businesses.

2). Don’t bring up the main competitor.

If you are presenting to a national organization don’t use their main compeitor as an example…I would’ve thought that was common sense.

3). Network!

The entire time. I met a new co-worker that is stationed at one of my office’s satellite centers who I connected with and had so much fun with – I even gave her a mini Twitter schooling (follow @katienino and get her up to speed on all things Twitter!). I met incredibly helpful people that I will be in contact with regularly.

Networking even allowed me to be mentioned on a different blog, check out my little mention here and as a plug for Jimdo and their SmallBizRocket initiative, if you need a website, these boys can help you out!

4). Get out of the “Conference Mode”

Of course I had to hit Bourbon street and go on a few tours! This is the time where I really connected with coworkers and met a few nice people along the way (some of which even invited me back to visit their home in the future).

Baby alligators are somewhat squishy. Hold one if you have the chance!

Yes, there was a baby goat on the street that I got to hold. This is the face you make when the baby goat you’re holding tries to jump from your hands.

Coffee Shop Etiquette


Both as a student and professional, I have spent a lot of time working in coffee shops. Comfy chairs, the smell of espresso and pastries, relaxing music… why do people have offices at all? Oh yeah, because loud or just plain annoying people can destroy your work environment in seconds. Want to avoid being one of the obnoxious ones? Follow these rules:

Do not:

  1. Have your cell phone ringer on, have a long or loud cell phone conversation, or Skype. Ever heard of vibrate people? I understand forgetting you have your ringer on and quickly grabbing your phone, but after the fifth time it rings in a quiet environment, turn that thing off! I also understand that sometimes it is necessary to answer the phone, even when people around you are trying to study or work, but do you really have to yell? Finally, don’t Skype in public. It is always annoying.
  2. Watch videos or play audio without headphones. This seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it happens. I know you are studying with friends and you HAVE to show them the hilarious video of a chihuahua dancing, but PLEASE just send the link so you guys can laugh about it later.
  3. Sing along with the music. No way this actually happens, right? Wrong. This happens more than you would think. People get extremely comfortable at their regular coffee shop and obviously forget they are in public as they sing along with Cat Stevens and other would-be-soothing tunes.
  4. Bring a baby, toddler or small child unless you have had their vocal chords removed and have taught them to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze and cough. I hope not to offend all parents with this one because of course not all children are evil and not all parents are oblivious, but many, many are.

Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest. What is the most annoying thing you have seen in a coffee shop?

Stop These Social Media Practices! (PLEASE)


Being young professionals in the PR and marketing worlds, we are basically FORCED to keep a constant eye on social media and the emerging trends. With our continuous scanning of various social media platforms we have developed our “social media pet peeves.” This post is to plead all of you out there in the online world to help us lead the charge to stamp out the following social media practices:

  • Om Nom Nom, #OmNomNom: I don’t care how you insert this, you don’t say it in real-life (Oh God, please don’t tell me you say it in real-life), so don’t put it online. All I can imagine when I read this is that you are currently shoveling that meal you just shot with the Toaster filter in Instagram into your face and are talking with your mouth open.
  • Linking posts to all your outlets: (Thanks to LinkedIn for already doing their part to stop this!) All social media outlets are different, people! I don’t want to see your hashtag on Facebook. Write different content and stop announcing to the world that you’re social-media-lazy.
  • YOLO: Give it up people, this trend has outlived its welcome.
  • Notes to self: I am not your virtual post-it note. I will not keep your diet on track or give you kudos for your 1,590 mile run that you completed in 1.5 hours.
  • Rambling multi-part tweets: I’m following hundreds of peeps, your first segment probably got lost as I’m scrolling through my feed and now I think you are spurting out incomplete thoughts. If you must do this, PLEASE include some indication that the Tweet is either the first or second or third part.
  • #FF: Really, we’re not over this yet? If I can’t figure out how to follow interesting people through their interesting connections, I don’t deserve their insights.
  • Linking to your blog…that’s about a year old, with no new relevancy or reason: If I didn’t read a year ago, I don’t want this old info now! Update! Make it applicable to a current trend or at least tell me why you are sharing it now!
  • Liking every picture someone posts on Facebook:  You have the ability to like the album. I don’t need 1,000,084 notifications on my Newsfeed that you like Stan’s last trip to Vegas.

If you do any of these, we don’t hate you. Some of the things we do on social media might be just as annoying to some people. What are some of the social media practices you think must end?