A note from Jeff Morosoff: Hofstra Honors College students in my PR Fundamentals class are required to submit guest blog posts throughout the semester. The following was written by public relations sophomore Nathalie Salazar. For my regular post, keep scrolling after the guest column.
Networking is an important aspect of any professional’s life, especially public relations professionals. Our job consists of communicating and building relationships with others. However, the question is whether you, as a public relations professional or an aspiring one, can network effectively.
Hofstra’s PRSSA chapter recently hosted a networking how-to at which PR Professor Laurie Bloom presented “Start Networking in 5 Easy Steps!”—an introduction to effective networking.
The first step is all about whom you know. “Think about the people you know: friends, college classmates, professors, your parents and their friends,” said Bloom. These are your connections. Beginning with already established relationships can help you get your foot in the door.
The second step is “Step Out!” You have to put yourself out there by looking for opportunities to network. Attending programs or conferences and joining organizations are great ways to begin networking among the professional field. For example, PRSSA is holding a Networking Dinner on Thursday, November 14 at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Plaza Room. Attending events like this can help you begin making connections and gathering contacts for internships or job opportunities.
The third is “Do Your Homework!” When networking, it is always important to know with whom you are networking. Find as much out about the organizations you want to join and if you attend a program or conference, research the professionals who will be there. Being well-informed will help you connect effectively.
The fourth step is “Prepare and Practice your Elevator Speech,” meaning, if you walk into an elevator and happen to run into a well-established professional who could possibly be your ticket to an internship or job, what will you say? It’s crucial to prepare and practice a short and effective summary of who you are and what your goals are. In an elevator speech, “think about what is most important for you to convey,” said Bloom. Have a key message and deliver it effectively when networking with professionals. Be concise and clear.
The fifth and final step is “Follow Up and Follow Through.” Effective networkers find a way to turn their contacts into real connections. “Ask if you can send a resume, call for an appointment…talk more over coffee,” said Bloom. During the first point of contact, nothing ever really happens besides an exchange of numbers or e-mail addresses. For this reason, the follow up is crucial in making a connection—and follow through with what you say you will do! “Most people do not!” noted Bloom.
Every professional networks. But effective networking is what will set a professional apart from the rest.
What are your thoughts on networking? What has worked for you and what hasn’t? Successes? Failures? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?