Networking is easy to define, but can be difficult to practice on an ongoing basis, especially when starting a new job with new responsibilities and demands on your time. You don’t want to lose the network you’ve worked hard to build, and you also want to create a stronger one. These simple steps will strengthen your connection pull and help to remain in touch with key industry professionals.
Discover connections through professional organizations
Professional organizations have a variety of resources available to help you meet new professionals and keep in touch with those you already know.
PRSA New Professionals Section
Even though PRSA New Pros only hosts in-person events during New Professionals Week in November, there are plenty of ways to get involved and connect with new professionals through:
- Comment and post questions on PRSA New Pros’ social media pages: blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
- Participate in monthly #NPPRSA Twitter chats
- Attend a webinar
- Reach out to others in your PR industry or location through our Section members-only directory. For example, I met with a PRSA New Pros member in Chicago for lunch, and she’s in government PR. In such a niche industry, she can connect with others across the U.S. with a similar profession or interest by using the directory.
PRSA New Pros Executive Committee
- PRSA New Pros has 15 Executive Committee members who live and work across the nation, from New York City to San Francisco. We are extremely involved in Section and in PRSA as a whole and are always willing to connect with our members. Reach out to any of us here.
PRSA Professional Interest Sections
- PRSA New Pros is one of 14 PRSA Interest Sections. Take advantage of other PRSA Sections, especially if one matches the PR industry where your interests lie.
PRSA Local Chapters
There are more than 120 local chapters of PRSA. Find the one closest to you and see how you can get involved in a face-to-face setting. This participation could include :
- Networking events
- Breakfasts, luncheons and/or happy hours
- Workshops and webinars
- Social media and discussion opportunities
For more on this subject, check out the blog post by Brandi Boatner, “Powering Partnerships through Local Leadership as a New Professional.”
Establish bonds with first, second and third degree connections
Connect with Co-workers
Look for mentorship programs, sports teams, happy hours, volunteering opportunities, young professional groups and planning committees to establish ties with co-workers outside of the usual work setting.
If your company doesn’t offer many ways to get involved, seek out co-workers you admire as mentors. Ask them to grab coffee or lunch outside of work.
Utilize LinkedIn and Twitter
Similar to PRSA New Pros’ directory, you can research and connect with professionals in your field through social media. Find companies and groups to follow, engage in discussions and build networks with professionals all across the world.
Search through companies for professionals with whom you share a connection. Ask for introductions and expand your reach to connections outside of your own circle.
Keep in regular communication for mutual benefit
Take a look back at your network and ask yourself, “From whom can I continue to learn and whom can I help learn and grow professionally?” Make sure to not lose touch with those professionals.
Hold on to their information
Save their business card and add the date you met and a small tidbit about the person or the conversation you had to the back of the card. Once you reconnect, you will have a reference point to continue the conversation.
Keep in Touch
Now that you’ve put the tools in place to know what to say, put them to use.
- If you haven’t already, connect with them on LinkedIn (with a personalized message!) and follow them on Twitter.
- Every few weeks or months, follow up with them. Email, tweet or send a LinkedIn message with an article you think they might find interesting, with great news to share about a project/client or to congratulate them on a new job or professional success. Also, saving emails is a great way to keep tabs on the last conversations you’ve had with your connections. Tools like Contactually can help you organize the inbox overload with tasks and reminders to follow up with your network.
- Once every few months, try to meet up for coffee, lunch or drinks. Ask questions, but also share what you’ve learned so far as a professional.
PR is a small world. Once connected to a few professionals, you’re just a few degrees away to hundreds of other professionals.
Creating connections and keeping your network strong can help you tremendously along your career path. As a bonus, some of those connections can turn into the some of your closest friends and mentors.
How do you define networking? What types of networking techniques have or haven’t worked for you to connect and keep in touch?
Nicole Bersani is an assistant account executive at Social@Ogilvy, where she works on social media for six global brands. She graduated from Ohio University in June 2012 with a degree in journalism/public relations. Bersani is the membership co-chair for the PRSA New Professionals Section.