Last week, Hofstra’s Vice President for University Relations, Melissa Connolly, visited my PR Fundamentals class, as she’s done in the past. She talked about her job, its breadth of scope, its challenges and rewards, and the career path that brought her to the campus. Melissa was honest and engaging, and she left my students with a better understanding of what a PR professional does.
We followed her talk with a discussion about developing a professional network, and I shared a personal story about the time I met Jim McCann, the founder and CEO of 1800FLOWERS.com, at a friend’s daughter’s bat mitzvah. My friend handled PR for the company, and having read McCann’s book and admired his success, I asked for an introduction. He couldn’t have been nicer, and we finished our five minute chat by exchanging business cards.
The next morning I received an email from Mr. McCann–an extraordinarily successful businessman who meets dozens of people every day–saying how good it was to have chatted with me, and if he could be of assistance to me in the future, I should call. That small PR gesture was superbly memorable, because it only took him a few seconds to acknowledge our meeting and, with it, he made a lasting impression.
I told my students they could take a lesson from my McCann experience and write a note to Melissa Connolly. Less than 24 hours later, Melissa emailed me to say she received several thank yous from my students. It was gratifying to know they got the message: a small gesture showing appreciation can go a long way toward enhancing (or starting) your professional network. Now these students have made a PR connection that they may, on appropriate occasions, use again.
Woody Allen famously said, “Ninety percent of life is just showing up.” As a networker from way back, I know just what he meant. Your thoughts?