PR is all about people—meeting them, talking to them, learning from them. That being said, networking is an essential skill for the PR communicator’s tool kit. You have to be able to network effectively to gain clients, establish media contacts and build brand awareness with the public.
Joni Daniels, founder and principal of Daniels & Associates, shares some suggestions about how to make the most of networking events and become a more connected communicator.
- Prepare Before You Go - Knowing what you want to accomplish provides meaning for being there. See if you can find out beforehand who'll be there.
- Get Connected - Work the room. Grab a drink, walk around and look for an opening in a group. Smile and make eye contact with people. Don’t lead with your business card in hand. A sense of humor, a smile, encouraging words, recognition and genuine praise are all excellent motivational gestures.
- Meet the Power - Be ready to take the initiative when you encounter top executives. Figure out what your message is in advance. By knowing what you want to say, you'll come across as smart, focused, articulate and insightful. Look composed and dress professionally. If in doubt, dress up, not down.
- Don't Overstay Your Welcome - Know when you want to leave. Be clear in your goodbyes, and know that leaving is fine. If you’ve accomplished what you set out to achieve, the function was a success.
- Use What You've Learned - If it seems appropriate, phone or send a note after an event. The joy of socializing is in the people you meet, and you may gain mentors and help protégés, all of which makes networking worthwhile. People want to help those they like and respect. They can't start liking you however, if you don't give them a chance to get to know you.
Follow Joni Daniels: @jonid
Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell