Networking is a critical component of PR
In the public relations industry, networking is one of the most important things you can do. However, it’s easier said than done. How do you network? Why should you network? And most importantly, how do you maintain connections?
How to network
You can network in person at conferences, events, luncheons, or in everyday places like the grocery store. You never know who you’ll meet or where, so always be prepared with an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short description of who you are and what you do. It should be succinct and memorable.
When you make a connection with someone in person, exchange business cards, so you can reach out to each other in the future. You should also connect on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. You can use sites like LinkedIn to help you make connections in new cities and at virtually any company. It’s a great tool. You can engage with your connections by reading articles they post about industry trends and then commenting on them. And use those articles as conversation starters the next time you see them.
Why you should network
So why network? Networking helps you learn and grow. When you make a new connection, that person may help you land a new job, be your mentor, or introduce you to your next client. Networking also helps to build your reputation as a PR professional. Every connection is a potential client. And if someone knows you work at an agency that produces high-quality work, they’ll want to work with you.
How to maintain connections
Once you make a connection, it’s important to maintain it. Send an email every few months checking in; make it worthwhile by asking pertinent questions or discussing industry trends. Keep in touch if you’re going to be in the same city or at the same conference. Ideas for a quick meetup include, meeting for coffee or lunch, attending a networking event together, and going to a professional society meeting, like the PRSA. If you’re looking for a virtual check-in, send your contacts articles through email or social media that remind you of them, interact with their posts on social media, and let them know you’re thinking of them on holidays and special occasions.
Social media is one of the best ways to make and maintain connections. Download Axia Public Relations’ complimentary e-book “The Essential Social Media Management Guide” to learn how to find and engage your target audiences. Build new, lasting relationships and learn the best practices for social media today.
Jordan McCrary is a senior public relations student at the University of Florida. She serves as the president of the UF chapter of PRSSA. She also works as an account executive at The Agency at UF and as a communications assistant for the Institute for Public Relations. Go Gators!