Networking plays an important role in public relations. Being good at networking can help land you your next job, gather information about an industry or introduce you to professionals who can offer advice about advancing your career.
Here are seven ways to help improve your networking skills.
1. Attend as many events as you can.
By attending national, regional and local events, you can get a kickstart on your professional network. The events vary from conferences to social mixers. Local PRSA events are a great way to connect with professionals in your area who can help you in the future.
Be sure to attend the PRSSA 2016 National Conference in October to connect with other PRSSA members and industry professionals.
2. Introduce yourself to others.
Speaking to someone you do not know can be a daunting task, so come prepared with a clear and concise networking pitch. Your introduction can be as simple as your name and shaking hands, sharing a fun fact to break the ice or asking an unusual question.
One of my favorite ways to lead off a conversation is with the question, “What is your favorite tree?” It catches them off guard, but it’s the initial step to making a lasting impression.
3. Be an active listener.
When networking, it is essential to give whoever you are speaking to your undivided attention.
It may seem like an effortless task, but listening to someone speak while making eye contact shows that you are genuinely interested in the conversation. Make them feel like their voice is being heard.
4. Ask thoughtful questions.
Though listening to someone speak is part of networking, communication requires two parties to engage in conversation. Ask the thought provoking questions. It will give you a higher understanding of who they are and provide context for future interactions.
5. Always bring your business cards.
If there is one thing that you should take from this article, it would be to make business cards. A business card makes the process of learning names of people you meet easier and leaves an impression of you after the conversation.
I didn’t know what to expect at the PRSSA 2016 National Assembly, but one thing I regretted was not having business cards.
6. Follow through with connections on LinkedIn.
Once you make a connection, be sure to connect on LinkedIn to maintain that relationship.
Send a personalized thank you message when someone connects with you. Include small details about your conversation and let them know you enjoyed meeting them. They’ll appreciate it more than you think.
7. Be yourself.
Being who you truly are is the most important step to making the most of your networking experience. Networking may seem like you are on a mission to get several contacts quickly, but the real key to honing your skill is making relationships that last long past the first time you’ve met.