New Pros Chapter Spotlight: National Capital Chapter

New Pros Week is right around the corner and what better way to get everyone excited about it than featuring PRSA’s National Capital Chapter’s lively New Pros group. This month, The Edge sat down with PRSA NCC’s New Professionals Committee Chairs Katelynn Wiggins and Kelsey Pospisil.

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The Edge: Tell us about the National Capital Chapter’s New Pros Committee is organized?

National Capital Chapter: We have a core group of really active committee members. They help secure locations for networking happy hours, panelists for professional development events, and help with logistics and registration during events. It is helpful to have involved committee members because with everyone’s busy schedule, typically two people are able to help us with each event.

TE: What kind of programming have you put together for New Pros?

NCC: Most of our activities are networking happy hours at local bars and restaurants. We also offer a few annual events. Headshots & Happy Hour offers attendees an opportunity to get a professional headshot taken while they mingle with other new pros. Professional development events provide information specific to the new professional audience on topics affecting their careers such as personal branding, resume building and presentation skills. The annual baseball networking event is a big hit with chapter members at all stages in their careers. It gives attendees to network in a more relaxed environment and enjoy a game with their fellow chapter members.

TE: How does your group fit into the bigger picture of the chapter?

NCC: The New Professionals group works with many other groups in the chapter. We frequently partner with the Membership committee to offer networking happy hours. We also partner with the University Relations committee to help transition students from PRSSA to PRSA.

TE: What resources do you provide for New Pros?

NCC: The chapter provides new professionals with a mentor-match service operated by our Mentoring committee. We also share job openings with committee members. We encourage more seasoned members to come to New Pros events if they are looking to hire entry or mid-career professionals.

TE: How can New Pros benefit from being involved with their local chapter’s New Pros group?

NCC: The PRSA-NCC New Professionals group is a great place to meet other people in the same stage of their career. It is nice to network in a relaxed environment to exchange ideas and learn from other new professionals. Members have told us they found out about open jobs at our events, and we know of many that have turned into being hired. We facilitate opportunities for people to form, maintain or grow relationships. If you’re eager to connect with other people, we’re just giving you an outlet, and helping you grow professionally at the same time.

Your local New Professionals group is a great way to get to know other people who are going through the same challenges, excitement and career growth you are. As a new professional in the world of PR there is a lot you can learn from connecting and building relationships with other like-minded people.

TE: How do you engage and recruit New Pros?

NCC: Near the beginning of each year the chapter hosts a Membership Rally. We have a table where members can sign up to join the committee. We also have information about joining the committee at all of our events.

TE: What advice do you have for New Pros for using PRSA to their best advantage?

NCC: Definitely make time to attend networking events offered by your chapter. It is the best spot to meet other people in the field. You may even make a contact that could help you find a new job down the line. It’s also a great place to find firms to contract for your company.

TE: What is the best way for New Pros to get involved in the PR community?

NCC: Attend your local chapter events and make an effort to introduce yourself and get to know as many people there as possible. Another way to get involved is through Twitter chats hosted by the National New Professional section. We always say that you’re going to get out of PRSA what you put in. The people and resources are almost infinite, but it’s up to you to take advantage of them.

If you’re in the D.C. area and would like more information on getting involved with the National Capital Chapter’s New Pros group, email Kelsey and Katelynn.

Five Keys to Personal Branding

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Brands aren’t just for businesses anymore. As a new pro, it’s important to establish your own personal brand and voice out in the professional world to set yourself apart from the crowd. Here are five steps to creating a personal brand that accurately reflects who you are.

1. Define who you are

First step to creating a strong personal brand is knowing who you are. Take some time to think about how you want people to see you and what you want to be known for. Make a list of what you do and don’t want to be known about you, mark the important things and keep it at the forefront of your entire strategy moving forward.

2. Carve out your niche

Now that you know what you are, you need to know what you want to talk about. Add to your list the things that you know a lot about, the things that you’re interested in and the things you want to learn more about. Don’t worry if some of these items seem incredibly different. You can be a great PR pro and showcase that expertise while still enjoying and talking about other interests, like baseball or Keeping Up With the Kardashians or indulging in every show the Food Network has to offer. When making your lists, pick out the most important items at the core of who you are and fill in the rest with the secondary things you’re interested in. Your personal brand should reflect who you are as a whole person.

3. Scrub down your social media

Before you start posting and strategically crafting your personal brand, take a good, hard look at your social media. Check your posts, delete those that you don’t want to be out in the world anymore and keep that in mind as you post in the future. If there are any accounts or photos that you’d like to be kept private, change your settings or take them down entirely. You may think that some of those tweets and posts may never see the light of day again because you posted them so long ago, but better safe than sorry.

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4. Fill your tool box

Take a good look at what you want people to know about you and think about how you’re going to present what you know. Social media is a pretty obvious choice, but how and what are you going to present? Will you share posts from your own blog? Examples of work you keep on your website? Guest posts you’ve written elsewhere? Looks like you’ve got some other work to do!

Whichever items you and methods you choose to use, make sure you have all the tools you need to get started before you actually start.

5. Shout it from your mountaintop

You’ve decided on what you want your personal brand to reflect, what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it and where. Now it’s time for you to stand up on your mountaintop and shout it. Join some Twitter chats, share your insight and your posts, and get out there in front of people who are interested in what you have to share.

What methods and tools do you use to maintain your personal brand?

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Robyn Rudish-Laning is a member of South Carolina’s PRSA chapter and is communications coordinator for the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. Robyn is also a member of the New Professionals executive committee. She is a graduate of Duquesne University and is currently located in Columbia, SC. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter or read her blog here.

Be Unstoppable: 5 Ways to Build Confidence as a New Pro

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Beginning as a new PR pro is exciting, but it can also be unnerving. Suddenly, you are no longer a student or intern – you are now taking on more significant roles within projects. As a new pro, you may interact with or even work alongside managers, directors, vice presidents and possibly even C-level executives. Being the newest professional on a team may challenge your confidence, but don’t let self-doubt undermine your skills and abilities. Here are five things you can do to help build your confidence:

1. Ask Questions

You’ve probably heard people say “knowledge is power,” and in many cases, that’s true. It’s natural to want to appear knowledgeable in the workplace, but having incorrect or incomplete information is far more costly than simply asking for clarification. Asking questions show that you are engaged and focused on accuracy. On top of that, having accurate information and a firm grip on what you are working on will make you more comfortable and confident.

2. Be Teachable

Being teachable is an incredibly important attribute for new professionals. An important part of being teachable is being open to feedback from others. As you may see over time, many seasoned professionals enjoy helping those who are newer to the field. Be humble and listen to those who are willing to share their knowledge and wisdom. Learning this way will not only help you feel more confident, but it will also help you build relationships with the pros who want to help you learn.

3. Remember Your Accomplishments

When you are working on a challenging project, or things just aren’t going your way, it can be easy to lose sight of all the things you have accomplished. It can be helpful to just take some time and reflect upon where you are and where you began. Think back even just a few years ago – what have you accomplished in that timeframe? Now think about where you are and where you could be a few years into the future. Remembering your accomplishments can serve as a reminder of the great things you are capable of doing and help build your confidence.

4. Make a Plan

When it comes to confidence, knowing where you want to go will help. You don’t have to have your entire life figured out today, but perhaps you plan on earning a Master’s degree by the time you’re 28, or you’re thinking about completing your Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) through PRSA within the next three years. Having a plan will help you feel more confident about your future, which can translate to increased confidence in the workplace.

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5. Learn from Mistakes

Mistakes – we all make them. Some are larger than others, but all mistakes have one thing in common: we can learn from them. Understanding what went wrong and why can help prevent the same mistake from happening twice. The most important thing about learning from mistakes is to not beat yourself up. Shake it off and learn from them – tomorrow is a new day to shine.

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Jeff Adkins is a public relations associate for Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. An active member of PRSA Detroit, Jeff enjoys connecting with fellow PR pros and seeking out new professional experiences. He obtained his Bachelor’s in Public Relations in 2014 from Wayne State University (WSU), where he was a member of the WSU PRSSA executive board and a peer mentor for students entering the PR program. In his free time, Jeff enjoys kayaking and staying active outside. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

How My Mentors Helped Me Decide to Make a Career Change

Editor’s Note: This post is part of our ongoing #MemberMonday series. Each week, we will share content focused on our New Pros members and how PRSA benefits them. Follow us on Twitter at @PRSANewPros and share your stories using #MemberMonday.

Deciding whether or not to leave your first job isn’t easy. There are a lot of questions to consider. Is it the company you don’t like or is it the industry? Is it the agency world or your particular agency? Have you done all you can to grow and love your job? Do you want to relocate and, if so, can you afford it?

Deciding whether or not to

Fortunately, mentors and other resources can help. As I debated whether to leave the agency world, here are a few lessons I learned from my mentors.

Build a network before you need one

When I started considering a career change, I decided to consult my mentors. Fortunately, I’d been building up a network for the past couple years, so it was easy to think of people to reach out to.

Here are the three types of mentors I consulted:

  1. Seasoned professionals. These are the well-connected, executive-level people who can relate best to the hiring managers who will be looking at your resume.
  2. Young professionals. Mentors who were where you are just a few years ago can relate to what you’re going through and offer timely advice.
  3. Mentees. I’ve found my mentees are so wise that they end up mentoring me in the process.

Don’t have mentors yet? PRSA Mentor Match is a great tool PRSA members can use to connect with seasoned professionals. I developed a corporate mentor who was very helpful in my decision.

Stop worrying about appearing like a job hopper

I, like most Millennials, was worried my résumé would look bad if I left my first job before the two-year mark. But then a mentor told me that’s a myth. Sure, some PR people may think you look like a job hopper, but it all comes down to the story you tell.

As long as you have a good story for why you jumped and if you are truly concerned with finding the right long-term fit, it shouldn’t matter if you leave your first job earlier than expected.

The key is to make sure you are making this change for the right reasons and that you’ve done all you can to be happy in your first job. Before leaving, outline the path you’d like your career to take. Will your current job help you get there? Have you done everything you can to carve the path you want? Have real conversations about your goals with your supervisor before deciding to leave.

Make a decision you can live with

Two people recently told me, “Your career is too short to be unhappy with your job. Why stay if you aren’t happy?” It seems so simple, but it can be hard to come to terms with. Just remember, there’s a difference between having a bad week and having a bad job.

Everyone will have opinions about your career path. But no matter what they tell you, you’re the only one who will be with your employer for 40-plus hours a week. You’re the one whose career is on the line.

Sure, some people will still tell you that you have to stick it out for a year or two. But in the end, it’s your decision. Make the one that feels right.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAl1AAAAJGM5NWQyMTZkLWFlZTAtNDU1OS05NDZiLTgxYTU2ZDNjZGJmNgHeather Harder is the programming co-chair for PRSA New Professionals and a former national president of PRSSA. Follow her on Twitter at @HeathHarder.

5 Tips to Generate Engagement in Your Chapter’s New Pros Committee

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There are plenty of things you could be doing right now besides reading this blog. Working out, binge watching House of Cards, or going to a happy hour with friends. Those are things new professionals in your local PRSA chapter could also be doing. Wouldn’t you rather have them attend PR events you host?

What can we do to make our events as valuable as possible in our efforts to create positive, professional engagement? Make no mistake, we are the future faces of PR in our communities – it’s important to build relationships with each other now and grow professionally. Engaging our local new pros is a great way to facilitate that. PRSA-NCC, the Washington, D.C. chapter, has a few tips for growing attendance at your new pros events:

1) Secure sponsors. Your members are a valuable audience. We encourage you to take advantage of that. Many companies are eager to strategically partner on events where their audience will be in attendance. We recently hosted our second annual “Headshots and Happy Hour” at Microsoft’s Innovation and Policy Center in D.C. Microsoft sponsored the space, as well as our food and beverage. The space came equipped with touch screens of Bing Maps, interactive displays and the latest Microsoft technology. Also, if you have a photographer in your chapter, approach him or her about taking the headshots at a reduced rate. Headshots are normally very expensive, so this is a great way for new pros to update their LinkedIn profile photos to be more professional. And, they can mingle with some new people at the same time.

2) Host events in the evening. It’s difficult for many new professionals to get away from the office during the day. Our networking happy hours typically run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. That way, people who get off work early won’t have too much time to kill before the event and people who get off a little later know they can still make most of it.

3) Take advantage of your city. We host a Washington Nationals baseball game networking event each year. Tickets are inexpensive and it gives people a chance to mingle in a more informal, relaxed setting. It’s often quite expensive to rent pre-game networking space from the ballpark, so just pick a designated location where your group can meet to network before the game starts.

4) Be strategic about venues. A lot of restaurants are more than willing to be accommodating. They may offer free, designated space for your group to mingle. They often have happy hour prices on drinks and appetizers, and even more inexpensive platter options. For professional development events, ask around in the chapter for whose office might have a space large enough to host your group. Maybe they’d even be willing to sponsor appetizers and beverages so you can keep the registration cost low for members.

5) Offer professional development events for a variety of audiences. Our most popular professional development event focused on personal branding—obviously a topic that appeals to new professionals looking to position themselves for career growth. It’s also appealing to more seasoned PR professionals looking to either hire for their organizations or move on to other positions. Offering topics that bring professionals from many levels together is a great way to facilitate networking among professionals representing different career stages.

Thank you for skipping House of Cards to read this blog. What strategies have worked well for engaging new pros in your chapter? We’d love to hear and share them!

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Katelynn Wiggins is co-chair of the PRSA-NCC New Professionals committee and assistant director of staff initiatives at the American Psychological Association.

 

 

 

 

 

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Kelsey Pospisil is co-chair of the PRSA-NCC New Professionals committee and client engagement & media relations manager at News Generation, Inc.