I think the most important lesson that I’ve learned over the years in the PR world, from interning to landing my full-time job(s), is that it’s so important to grow a strong network that you can rely on. There are a few different layers of this, depending on where you are in your career.
For example, your network while your interning might be slightly different than your network while working your first job…different, but still equally important!
While in school or interning, it’s so important to connect with as many people in your field as possible. I know, I know, I probably sound like a broken record at this point but it’s true!
Join clubs that are relevant to the PR field, namely…the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Joining my schools’ chapter of PRSSA changed my life back in the day. Not only did I make friends that I remain close to to this day, but most clubs schedule weekly meetings that are designed to help you connect with likeminded people within the club. You guys remember this weeks’ podcast episode right? Well, I met David through PRSSA!!!!!
TRUST ME PEOPLE, get connected when you still have time to go for coffee!!
Can I be nostalgic for a minute? I seriously do miss the days where I may have been dirt poor but I had all the time in the world to meet people over a cup of coffee. I had some of THE most interesting [professional] coffee dates back in the day.
Not a student anymore? Definitely take time to learn more about the PRSA (essentially the adult version of the community) and I definitely encourage you to reach out to your local chapter. Not only will you learn a ton, but signing up to join gets you on the newsletter for job postings! Totally worth every single penny.
When it comes to networking, I have a few other tips that will definitely give you a leg-up in building out your web of professional relationships.
- Take advantage of your professors: Connect with any dude or lady who has stood in front of your class and lectured about the field of public relations. I’m not kidding you. Ask them to coffee and if they refuse? Bring coffee to office hours and force them to talk about their experience while active in the industry. Typically, professors love to talk about themselves and they might be able to offer some insight into what specific genre of public relations you might want to go into. Use them as a resource, because they are!
- Go to networking events: Mooch off of your friends that are already in the industry and ask to tag along to their work happy hours OR stalk Eventbrite/ Eventful/ Facebook for other networking events within your industry. Yes, this can be kind of sketchy but it can also turn into something amazing! See an indie fashion show happening at your local museum or something and tickets are free? Grab your ticket and go, then make a point to find the PR person who put on the whole event and offer to buy them a drink. Networking at it’s finest, people!
- Work your LinkedIn: I swear, I’m going to do an entire post alone on the importance of LinkedIn but don’t neglect your profile! Keep it up-to-date and ensure that you’re sending out connection invites regularly. The more people you connect with, the more people are going to view your profile and remember you whenever a job position opens up. Another trick? Upload any writing samples you might have…even class papers count! Potential employers love seeing writing samples, bonus points if you have an old pitch that you can upload. Think of your LinkedIn like a more animated version of your resume.
I literally can’t stress enough how important it is to build lasting relationships with influential people in your life. Set calendar reminders for important dates, like your internship supervisor’s birthday and send him or her a note to wish them well! Little things like that go a very long way in building relationships with people that matter.
Already past your internship days and landed your first full time job?
Networking doesn’t end there lol.
Look for professional networks to join that might help you continue to connect with people in the industry. For example, I work in the beauty industry so I’m a member of CEW. That membership has proven to be INVALUABLE, and I’m lucky enough that my company covers my annual fee. Can’t afford the membership? I talked about their newsletter in this post…SIGN UP FOR IT.
Additionally, continue to send out those LinkedIn invites but now, focus on the media pool that you’ve started to build relationships with. Just landed a placement on Seventeen.com with the beauty editor? Send her a connection note and thank her for the consideration! Trust me…the worst she can say is no, right?
Do you have any tips for building your network?
Share them with me in the comments or tweet me!