Public relations is, go figure, all about relationships. Between clients, co-workers, potential employers and other PR professionals. Putting yourself out there and creating valuable connections is a critical part of any public relations career journey. These relationships not only assist in sustaining you professionally, but personally as well. No one will understand your long hours, obsession with your inbox or need to edit every piece of writing you see more than your fellow practitioners.
Still, these relationships take time to cultivate and even more time to sustain. There are plenty of ways, especially as a college student, to put yourself out there, such as joining your campus’s PRSSA chapter. But if you’re balancing a full course load, work, internships and other activities, getting out into the world to meet people may not make it onto your to-do list, though you wish you had the time.
Thanks to the digital age and the ever-advancing social media industry, connections can be created and sustained within your bedroom walls. Here are 5 ways to network without leaving home.
1. Create a Twitter list of professionals you’d like to connect with and @reply to them with a personal message.
Placing these professionals into a Twitter list allows you to easily keep track of who you’ve reached out to, and makes it easy to go back to contact them again. Be sure to make your messages to them personal and relative to the reason you want to connect with them in the first place. Go back to this list often to check-in with your new connections and grow those relationships.
2. Send personal messages when connecting on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a community of professionals looking to connect with other professionals –a networkers dream! When making new connections, be sure to delete the generic message LinkedIn provides and send something original. Use that message as the opportunity to introduce yourself properly and point out what you have in common with your new connection. And, of course, make sure your profile is up to date so that it speaks positively on your behalf.
3. Share, share, share.
If you have a platform, use it! You’d be surprised at how many connections you can make simply by sharing things that you are likely to have in common with others. If you read an interesting article online, share it and mention the writer or website that published it. Make your areas of interest public knowledge so that when people encounter your profiles they get an accurate glimpse of who you are.
4. Make a phone call.
The dreaded cold call. The up point about calling rather than emailing or messaging someone is that their phone is likely less active (and crowded) than their inbox. It’s easy to stand out when there are less people standing around you. Call an old boss, co-worker or contact and just catch up with them. Ask if they’re working on any new or exciting projects and let them know what’s going on with you as well.
5. Join or launch online communities.
You aren’t the only one seeking networking opportunities from the comforts of home. There are tons of blogs, websites and online forums which foster community for young professionals. Research sites in your industry and start leaving comments on the articles you read. Reply to the comments of others when you can and get to know the regulars. The answers to your hardest questions or greatest struggles could be waiting for you within these communities. And if all else fails, start your own! Launch a Facebook group where professionals from all over can come together and network virtually.