Relationships are at the heart of everything public relations professionals do. But while everyone is so connected through technology, it's becoming harder to find the time to make face-to-face connections. And as we all become more comfortable communicating over the Internet, our face-to-face networking skills get rusty. For PR pros, practicing those in-person communications skills is crucial.
Here are some best practices when navigating the networking waters, courtesy of Carrie DeVries, senior account executive at Deveney Communication and contributor to PR News' Media Relations Guidebook Vol. 2:
- Go by yourself. Leave your safety net at home. Going by yourself will force you to engage with unfamiliar people.
- Check your pride at the door. When you arrive at a networking event, scan the room. You’ll notice everyone is in the same boat as you and is probably feeling a bit awkward. Don’t wait for someone to come up to you—empower yourself by starting the conversation.
- Seek out networking opportunities outside of your industry. Mix it up. Pick an industry you want to learn more about and do just that by speaking directly with the people who work in it.
- Dress the part. When in doubt, dress up. You’ll be taken more seriously, and attendees looking for their next employee will take note.
- Two-drink limit. The important thing is to know your tolerance level. The goal is to meet new people and have thoughtful conversations. Don’t ruin that with slurred speech and droopy eyes.
- Be armed with a compelling elevator pitch. This should be a quick, 30-60-second summation that defines you as a person, your profession, product or service.
- Be approachable. Uncross those arms and put a smile on your face. You’ll come off as much more approachable and your networking results will be noticeably better. And, most important, keep your cell phone packed away.
- Follow-up with an email, attach a résumé. If you meet someone that could be a potential employer or could connect you with a potential employer, follow up promptly with an email thanking him/her for his/her time and make sure to include your résumé.
Follow Carrie DeVries: @carrie_devries
Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene