Takeaways from DePaul PRSSA’s Chapter Development Session: Networking is So Fetch

Members of DePaul PRSSA presenting during their Chapter Development Session at International Conference.

At the PRSSA 2019 International Conference, DePaul PRSSA presented a Chapter development session called Networking is So Fetch! The Mean Girls spin-off showcased tips on the world of networking and how to best use your network for professional development.

Here are a few of the key takeaways:

  • Never burn a bridge, personal or professional.
  • There are different types of relationships, just like there are different shades of pink.
    • PRSSA Chapter members
    • Other PRSSA Chapters
    • Alumni relationships
    • Mentor relationships
  • Classmates and your Chapter members are important because you never know which of your peers will be your boss or an intern coordinator at an agency you want to work for.
  • It’s important to stand out when networking with the professionals from Chapter meetings and professional visits.
    • Get the names in advance of the professionals you’ll meet and do your homework.
      • Check out the professionals on LinkedIn so when you meet them, you can ask some smart questions about their careers or agencies.
    • Give an authentic variation of your elevator speech.
      • Make sure to include what area of PR you are interested in, a recap of your experience and how you will apply your experience to the firm’s success.
  • It’s all in your follow-up. Remember that it is about more than what you say.
    • First, it’s all about timing. The same day or evening you meet the pro, invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn.
      • Customize your connection request by writing a special note that says how much you enjoyed meeting them. Mention something about the conversation and maybe ask a question about them or their firm.
    • Write a HANDWRITTEN thank you note after an interview or meeting. Leave it with the receptionist to give to them before you leave.
  • The limit doesn’t exist in terms of the number of professional relationships you need. But it’s important to actively engage in your relationships.
  • Alumni are great. They know what it’s like to be in your shoes and looking for a job/internship.
  • When job searching, develop a target list of companies you want to work for that match up with your PR interests. Then, reach out to any alumni or professional connections that work at these firms for an informational interview.
  • Use Google alerts to keep up with information on your connections company, clients or interests. When something comes up, you have something to reconnect with your connection about (an article they want to read or congratulations about something exciting that has happened).
  • When looking for a mentor, it is important that you find someone you are comfortable with and who can offer advice for different situations.
  • To find a mentor, determine what you need and what qualities your mentor needs to have in order to help you [for example, I wanted my mentor to have both agency and in-house experience, plus work in the area of PR I was interested in].
  • Look over the list of professionals and alumni you have met and reach out to the one who you admire most.
  • Your connections are happy to help you but they expect you to do most of the heavy lifting and to be proactive.

Thank you to those who were able to make it to our session. If you weren’t, I hope you were able to gain something from the key takeaways. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about networking, I am happy to help in any way I can.

Lauren Russett is a junior studying public relations and advertising at DePaul University and is currently serving as the vice president of program development for DePaul PRSSA. She is currently working as a social media and brand development consultant for brands in the home industry. Follow her on Twitter @russettlauren.


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