Saturday, April 17, 2010

It’s all about WHO you know

As a college student and a PR junkie, I am constantly questioning how I can improve and expand my networks. I sit for hours on social media sites and keep up with the news, but the biggest roadblock I find in my long-term PR goals is that I do not know people of importance in the industry yet. As I delve into the world of un-paid internships in the fall, I know I will begin a slow process of building a network that will help me to thrive in the PR world. As I was contemplating my blog entry, I figured I would write on the thing I think is most beneficial for all young PR students: how to develop a strong sense of networking. In my research, I found an article on Ragan’s homepage entitled “Build a Stronger Network.” After all, in this business, its not what you know its WHO.

We are all aware that PR specialists can help each other out. Therefore, maintaining strong relationships is a vital part of the business. This article by Jeremy Porter on Journalistics gave 16 steps that are necessary to successful networking that I thought any PR enthusiast might like:

  1. Know your Goals – figure out what types of relationships you are looking to build, and what types of people would benefit you to know.
  2. Keep Score- track the progress you’re making and see how your network expands in terms of numbers… you might surprise yourself!
  3. Target the Right Engagement Points- Make sure you are approaching people when networking is appropriate and people are open to engage. In some cases, people are not looking to work when they are out.
  4. Have a Good Opener- Make sure you know clearly how to describe your profession, and maybe practice some key talking points.
  5. Get digits- constantly get contact information and be able to keep these people in your active, rather than passive network.
  6. Follow up- Keep your relationships going! Everyone gets lots of business cards but make yourself memorable by making contact.
  7. Stay in Touch- once you’ve hooked a PR pro, you need to make sure that they don’t forget your name or face. Become friends and keep it that way!
  8. Dress appropriately- it is important to take yourself seriously and dress for the occasion. You don’t want to stand out in a negative way for being under/overdressed.
  9. Deliver Value- if you have information that would be beneficial to someone in your network, share it with them! You never know when they’ll return the favor.
  10. Don’t judge- First interactions can be deceiving, so continue to get to know a person before you think you have them pegged.
  11. Look in the mirror- Likewise, try to imagine you are meeting yourself in a professional sense. What would you think? What do you look like?
  12. Keep it fun- PR people are social beings! Don’t try to make things all business, because the best relationships are friendships and professional.
  13. Build Relationships when you don’t need them- This is important. People don’t want to feel as though you are constantly wanting something from them. Always be on the lookout for new networking, even if you don’t have an immediate need for it.
  14. Say please and thank you- Manners matter. Politeness and rudeness can have a bigger effect than you realize.
  15. Be sincere- People can tell if you simply want something from them or if you genuinely want to get to know them and learn from them. It shows.
  16. Everybody is important- no matter how little or small, everyone has something to teach you and something to learn!

In the PR world, it is important to acquire contacts, keep them going, and utilize them. Make sure that you are doing everything you can to keep your contacts in good standings and happy with your relationship. This is the first step to success!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Meagan Prescott.