As a soon-to-be public relations professional, I am always looking to grow my network, whether it be at my university, my current internship or during my travels. I recently concluded my semester abroad in Melbourne, Australia. While school was my main priority abroad, I also used my time in a new foreign environment to grow my global network.
My classes in Australia included three marketing courses as well as one public relations course. The public relations course was mainly a general communication class as most universities in Australia do not have a specific program for public relations. Nevertheless, it was an engaging class that looked at the digital world through different lenses.
It was during this class that I met and connected with the most students. I found myself learning more about what the student’s internships and post-grad jobs were like. Whenever I heard of a new company or organization, I was sure to research them to gain a better understanding of the communication business in Melbourne. In some cases, I even reached out to companies to ask questions or learn more about their work. I found new contacts on LinkedIn and connected with them by sending a personal invitation. More often than not, these new contacts would accept my request and follow up with an introduction. Perhaps this was because nearly all the Australians I met were friendly and engaging or maybe it was because they valued meeting a young American communication student. Whatever the case, I was happy that my network was expanding.
I tried to set up a few casual coffee dates with communication professionals in Melbourne but unfortunately, they didn’t work out. I realized that as long as I was meeting new professionals and learning about different companies, I was still getting the most out of my experience in a foreign environment.
Like many college students, we may not know where exactly we will end up post-graduation. Therefore, the more people we can meet and connect with now, the more prepared we’ll be during our future job searches. I absolutely loved my time in Melbourne. Whether or not I may move there sometime during my career is entirely up in the air but at least now I can say I have some contacts and friends in the land down under that are able and willing to help me if I ever need it.
Growing your global network does not necessarily need to be done when you are abroad. Simply utilizing LinkedIn to find new contacts can also be beneficial. However, if you do find yourself in a new location, take advantage of the opportunity to connect with different companies or professionals you follow. You never know how someone may be able to help you, or vice versa, in the future.
Emma Ingram is the 2018-2019 Publications Editor in Chief for PRSSA National. Previously she was the Vice President and Chapter President at American University PRSSA. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.