(Guest post by Intern Witney Withers)
One of the most valuable skills no matter what field you work in is the ability to network. In a world where, as the old saying goes, “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know,” networking is vital for new opportunities and advancing your career.
Although public relations is a field that revolves around communication and making connections, networking can be intimidating even for experienced professionals. Yet, done correctly, networking will bring valuable connections for years to come.
Here are some tips to help you be a more effective networker:
- Do research: If you are attending a specific networking event, research those attending. Find out if it will be new professionals in the field or more experienced people. Research some of the attendees and their companies. Find things that could be potential conversation starters.
- Do set goals: Before attending any type of networking event or opportunity, decide what your goals are. Are you networking to find a job, build relationships with others in the PR world or just for fun? Setting simple goals will make networking more beneficial.
- Do follow-up: The single most important thing to do after a networking event is follow-up. The main purpose of networking is to build meaningful relationships. Exchange business cards, use social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn to stay connected. If you made a significant connection with someone, e-mail them and include a memorable point from the conversation. Following up also includes staying in touch on a periodic basis.
- Don’t talk more than you listen: People love to talk about themselves and even more, they love someone who will listen. Take advantage of this by being an attentive listener and asking quality and open-ended questions. You never know what types of things you could find out, especially if you are surrounded by more experienced professionals.
- Don’t cling to one person: The main purpose of a networking event is to meet new people. It’s okay to attend events with a colleague or close friend to reduce nervousness. However, it’s not okay to talk to them the entire time. You can miss out on valuable connections. Move around and work the room.
What networking rules do you follow?