Successful Networking

Networking is critical for a successful communicator.  A great network of contacts can help a practitioner land a new job or learn new skills.  While the word “networking” frequently appears discussions about public relations, how to network is a mystery to many.  What is effective networking?  How can students learn to successfully network?

7 thoughts on “Successful Networking

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      When you can leave a job for ethical reasons and within a month, be working at the firm of your dreams, you’ve probably got an effective network to thank. Networking isn’t just about getting hired though, one of the greatest benefits to a network is the wealth of knowledge you have access to, especially if your network includes professionals and experts in their chosen field or industry. Everyone you know and keep in contact with can be included in a network and just like Facebook, it’s up to you to stay in contact with them, update them on what’s going on in your life, and find out what’s going on in theirs. The key to solid networking is being thoughtful.

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      I used to hate the buzz word “networking.” For the longest time I thought it was a euphemism for shallow, selfish, career-enhancing relationship building but I’ve come to find it doesn’t have to be that at all. Really, networking is about making friends–not handing out business cards like they are candy or trading cards. With this in mind, when I ‘network’ I try to just make a new friend. I try to remind myself of a few tips from How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (the so-called PR bible) and remember to show an active interest in the other person–what are their likes or dislikes, what got them where they are today, what is their greatest ambition, if they were a fruit what kind would they be. Well, not so much the last one but you the idea. I think networking is much more effective when it is less about you and more about others. This way you’re more apt to make friends and friends are more apt to help you in the future.
      That’s what networking is all about. 🙂

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      As a graduating senior in a few months, I attend many luncheons and events that are offered in either our school chapter or surrounding regions. The best advice I can give to other students in this position is 1. to attend, although some of these events are pricey or may require a commute, and 2. if you want to attend, but don’t have the money, ask if they need volunteers.

      I know it’s hard working for free or spending a weekend working a conference, but we all need to start somewhere-

      Every event that I’ve attended or volunteered for has had an astounding response from professionals. Not many students actually attend the events ( for the most part ) and the working professionals become interested because they view the student as resourceful, ambitious, and with much tact to come into the den of professional employers. I am always myself- outgoing, personable, and make sure I dress the part.

      I always make sure that I ask questions about their career, how they got started, and people are always willing to offer up advice, help, etc.

      Another effective networking tool is to make some business cards. Put your name, email, contact phone number. Whether it’s for a drawing at a business luncheon or to keep in touch with people for when you graduate, it’s efficient and has gotten me some wonderful referrals for internships/jobs.

      Besides the three items listed, be honest and build a relationship with people. If a student is looking for an internship and goes to an event with the intent to get one, it won’t happen. Everyone may have an agenda at these events: build business, get respective clients, find a job/internship, but you must show them who you are, what you’re about, and things will follow.

      Students must build a rapport, make them see that you may be the right fit; believe me they’ll ask if you are currently working somewhere and if you’re interested in working with them. if they like you! Mixer events always lighten the mood esp. open bar (What can i say, that’s how some business gets done)

      Warning: 30 year old men may hit on you at these events, 😉
      Warning: open bar doesn’t mean get trashed ( this is a professional function and although some of the professionals may be, you may not!)

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      One of the best ways I found as a student starting to network was attending the Hoosier PRSA luncheons. Our faculty adviser, Pritch, told us to make a goal for ourselves to walk away with at least 3-4 business cards by the end of the luncheon. It really made us step out of our comfort zone of talking to our peers of fellow students. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it! Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Otherwise you’ll never know what you’ll discover!

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      Thanks, Jen, for your comment. I attended my first PRSA luncheon last week and I loved it! Your encouragement helped me get outside of my comfort zone and make some new friends. 🙂

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      Its important to build relationships with people you meet even if they are your peers. Just introducing yourself and making your presence known is a good step to networking. To begin join organizations on your campus and network with other students. They might have connections in the future.

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      As a college student, the field of PR seems exciting, yet daunting. We are always thinking about how we can get our next break to potentially intern with an established company. Networking seems like our best bet. But it isn’t. No matter what someone tells you, networking is shallow and is really only a self-enhancing tool. In order to “make-it” a person needs to work hard to push their way to the top, instead of relying on “Joe Shmo” to put in a good word. Believe in yourself and the creative process will follow:)

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