Social media brings people together. While we use it in our daily lives to stay connected with family and friends, we also can use it as a digital tool for networking within the public relations industry. Here are a few ways to start using social media to build your network:
Follow up after meeting. Make the connection, exchange business cards and promise to stay in touch. After you’ve gotten through the stages of in-person networking, it’s the perfect time to go digital. Seek out your new contact on LinkedIn or Twitter, and then request a connection. Don’t be afraid to ask the professional if he or she has a preferred social media platform for staying in touch.
Access inaccessible people. Just like brands use social media to reach global audiences, you can use it to reach professionals outside of your current city. Follow along with professionals and companies you admire, regardless of where they are located. Use Twitter and LinkedIn to find individuals in cities where you want to work. Skype is also a great tool for long-distance informational interviews and “digital coffee dates.”
Establish genuine connections. Conversation shouldn’t be forced. Using social media as a networking tool gives you the gift of timing. Wait until a professional you admire posts about something that genuinely interests you, such as an article about brand journalism or the successful campaign your favorite brand just launched. Find something that allows you to respond in an authentic, insightful way. It’s just like finding common interests in a face-to-face meeting.
Social media allows professionals to get connected (and stay connected) from any place in the world. Even digitally, you can build and maintain genuine connections that you will use throughout the start of your career. The PRSSA National social media accounts are a great place to start.
How have you used social media in your networking efforts? What advice would you offer to fellow PRSSA members?
Callie Gisler is a senior at the University of Oregon (UO) in Eugene, Ore., where she currently serves as UO PRSSA Chapter president. Follow her on Twitter @calliegisler.