A practical guide to networking in PR and marketing
Love it or hate it, networking is a critical component to growing your professional career. Whether you’re looking for a job or just want to meet new people, the individuals you meet at these events have the potential to play a huge role in your professional life down the road. From providing you with potential new job opportunities, mentorship, or even new knowledge and expertise, relationships built through networking can open up a world of opportunities – but only if you approach these events appropriately:
- Bring business cards: Be sure to have a hefty supply of business cards readily accessible. You never know who you’re going to meet and you want to be sure to have something to offer them to keep in touch. It also validates your professionalism if you can produce a card.
- Follow up: Whether through an email or LinkedIn connection, be sure to follow up with anyone you meet. Down the road, either one of you may be in a position to help the other. Following up differentiates you from others, solidifies the meeting their mind and counts as another touchpoint.
- Listen and learn: Be prepared to listen to what others have to teach you. Whether through a panel, group discussion or mingling before or after the event, other professionals can offer you a new perspective. You’d be amazed what you can learn from other’s shared experiences.
- Put your best foot forward: Look presentable and dress to impress. Be sure you’re prepared for the event, whether that means researching what topics will be discussed or who exactly will be attending.
- Perfect your elevator pitch: Be prepared to sell yourself and what you’re looking for. Whether just looking for a professional network or looking for a new job, you should have a solid elevator pitch that is short, sweet, and most importantly, memorable.
- Say thank you: Say thank you to the event hosts, whether privately or via social media (or both). Recognizing the effort that goes into making an event successful goes a long way toward fostering goodwill.
- Be timid: Build up your confidence and make the first move. If you see others by themselves, make an introduction. Chances are they are just as nervous as you. Fail-safe opening lines include your name, where you work and what your role is – then ask them the same.
- Speak to only those you already know: You’re at a networking event to network with people. Don’t just sit in the corner talking to the person you came with or the first person you meet. Be sure to put yourself out there and meet a lot of people – you never know which connection may turn out to be the most meaningful down the line.
- Be afraid to ask questions: Networking events provide a great opportunity for general professional development. People like to talk about themselves, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn from those who are more experienced than you and ask questions about their work. Chances are they have a wealth of knowledge they are eager to share if you simply ask.
- Drink (too much): If there is alcohol, feel free to have a drink, but limit yourself to one. Remember, this is a professional event, so have a glass of wine or a beer, but always be sure to read the room.
- Overdo it with the self-promotion: While you should have your elevator pitch planned out and practiced, be careful of over selling or promoting yourself. No one likes an over-involved or self-serving person. Be sure to ask others about themselves and know when to stop talking about yourself; this includes follow-up contact, as well.
- Expect immediate results: Networking is about building relationships. Don’t go into a networking event expecting to have a job interview lined up the next day; meet people and build relationships. You never know what can happen down the line.
Most importantly, remember to be yourself. While it can be a new and intimidating experience, knowing how to carry yourself will prove valuable down the line.
Do you have a networking tip to help foster professional growth? Let us know about it @CorporateInk.