The art of PRofessionally and effectively networking

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.

Nathalie Salazar

Nathalie Salazar

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?

 

10 thoughts on “The art of PRofessionally and effectively networking

  1. Jeremy Epstein

    These are great tips. I will definitely utilize them the next time that I find myself in a networking situation! A scenario can arise at any moment where you can run into the right person and you should be prepared. Simple courtesies really do go a long way and are underutilized in our current society. To conclude, these tips were very helpful

    Reply
  2. kielym856

    These are a lot of great tips, and some that I never even thought about! I really like the elevator tip. Sometimes small talk is just small talk. Having your thoughts organized and prepared can really be beneficial. Not just in elevators, but in any type of run-in situation. It’s good to have a short little speech about yourself ready to fire. I find that just being social in general is a good way to network. I work at a restaurant and simply by being social and chatting with my customers, I have found many opportunities, connections, and received many business cards simply from being willing to be personable.

    Reply
  3. Brenna O'Shea

    This is a great post. I recently attended the networking event this past Thursday and I thought it went well and was rather helpful. It’s important to gain as many contacts and connections as you can, especially in the PR industry. It can’t hurt to introduce yourself to representives at networking events. It’s also importantl to ask questions and to hear what companies look for in their employees.

    Reply
  4. Rachel Tom-Quinn

    These are really great networking tips. I have been in several networking situations and honestly agree that all of these tips are crucial. I would say one of the most important tips is to do your homework and know something about the people you are going to meet. Don’t say, “its been my dream to work for you and your company” when you don’t know who they are or anything about the company. oh and be social, don’t hide!

    Reply
  5. Krista Giannak

    Here are some techniques I learned from Rob Fishman and Rich Isaac at Sandler Training in Hauppauge.

    I never ask directly for work. Instead, I generally presume that my colleagues have what they need, but I may throw it out there anyway, if it feels right. “You work for a well established company; I suppose you are all set with your public relations services.” This gives them a way to say “Oh yes, we have lots of staff,” without hurting anyone’s feelings. They could also say, “Actually, we’re hiring consultants/staff/whomever.”

    Another technique I use is to ask about business challenges. I get a sense of the everyday concerns of public relations professionals in different industries. I might discover that they could use some help handling these concerns, or I might then use the information later, in letters, phone calls, or additional networking situations. For example: “When I speak with other public relations professionals, they sometimes say that they are doing well, and they find it difficult to make time for those last minute clients. I don’t suppose you can relate to that.”

    If the conversation goes well, I ask for an appointment, based on what we have been discussing. Sometimes, I ask for a brief conversation on the phone, while other times, I try for a longer meeting. Either way, I ask if they have their calendar handy to set an appointment, if that’s possible at the moment. I tell them: “A lot of times, when I haven’t set appointments in the past, we just end up playing phone tag. That frustrates everyone involved. I really prefer to avoid that.”

    I hope this helps someone. For your information, you can call Sandler Training at (631) 231-3538. I highly recommend their services, as I have learned so much that I never learned in my college courses. Unfortunately, I never had Professor Morosoff.

    Reply
  6. taylorcebutler

    All of these points are great tips. A tip I would pass on is one a professor of mine said. There is a difference between networking and gathering. If you go to a conference or a meeting and just collect business cards, you are not networking. You are simply name gathering if you do that and you are wasting your time. He said that networking requires a relationship. you have to meet them and follow up every so often. Lay a foundation and then cultivate your relationship with them. It is not who you know, but who knows you. Doing that will get those of us looking for employment much farther than collecting names.

    Reply
  7. akrame27

    I really enjoyed reading this post considering my focus is to obtain an internship and eventually a job. Networking really is key in public relations making those connections as well as following up after the initial meeting. One way I have started to network is just through my peers who have had experiences in the field through their previous internships. Many of the contacts I have acquired have actually been through public relation majors.

    Reply
  8. Isabela Jacobsen

    I really liked the way professor Bloom started the presentation. She asked us to raise our hand, while she called out different questions like, “Who has family members that work somewhere?” It seemed like pretty silly questions, but like you said, she made her point that these are all our connections. It’s so funny how meeting one person can open doors to a new crowd . You never know who someone else might know and how that could help you! She gave some great tips and I was happy I got to learn from the presentation. I’m very nervous about the networking dinner, but I always remind myself that I will never get anything accomplished without stepping out of my comfort zone and I think professor Bloom touched on that very well in the presentation as well.

    Reply
  9. rachelcarru2

    All of these tips that Nathalie summarized are spot on! The one that I find leaves the best taste in employers’ mouths is following up. After every interview I’ve ever had, I always make it a point to follow up with them via email. After my internship this summer I sent my employer a handwritten letter thanking them for a wonderful internship. Tactics like these have already paid off for me and I will take these other techniques seriously!

    Reply
  10. missbrogan93

    This post had a lot of good tips when it comes to networking! I believe confidence is a key aspect when it comes to networking. You have to have confidence in yourself to be able to pitch your “elevator speech.” I think that is a great tool to have ready, especially as a student looking for internships. You never really know when you will run into someone important.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.