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:
- 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.
- 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!