Networking is one of the most essential components of public relations. Building strong connections and relationships with journalists, clients, and other PR professionals is key in developing your credibility and interpersonal communication skills. However, with COVID, virtual and hybrid events are the new normal and expectations. Learning how to still connect with others while possibly never meeting them face-to-face might be nerve-wracking, but will ultimately benefit you in the long run.
1. Participate in online events
There are more online events than people might realize, you just have to know where to look for them. Temple University and Klein College constantly hold multiple events every week. Various student organizations regularly invite panels of guest speakers. There are groups on social media sites dedicated to professional development and hosting networking events. These are all great places to start meeting new people, either students or established professionals. It’s very important to be engaged and participate in these events by asking questions and getting contact information. From this initial meeting, you have the opportunity to make a good first impression by asking a thoughtful question, such as their education and career path/goals. The more unique the question is, the more likely they are to remember you! At the end of the event, most panelists will give out their email addresses. If not, don’t be afraid to ask for it. The chances of them rejecting you are so slim. These are the first steps in building a connection.
2. Engage through social media
Getting your new connection’s social media is a great way to solidify your relationship. LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter are a few essential social networking sites that tons of professionals use to showcase their work. You can see their latest updates and what they are up to. Interacting with their posts will help them in recognizing you and they will appreciate the engagement and attention. Posting your own updates also puts you on their radar and shows them that you are putting in the effort to develop your social media presence.
3. Keep in touch – set up meetings in your free time
Continuously contacting and keeping in touch with your new connection is the most important part of networking – actually maintaining that connection. Once you get their contact information, either their email address or social media, or even their phone number, you can message them privately to catch up. When messaging them for the first time, bringing up something interesting from the first time you met to remind them of you will make them more excited to chat. Additionally, mentioning something they posted on social media, such as congratulating them on their promotion update, is a great ice breaker to ease into the conversation. From there, you can reach out to them once in a while to see how they’re doing through messages or meetings, in-person or virtual. Over time, your relationship will get stronger and stronger.
Networking doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it’s made out to be. Being genuine, confident, and curious goes a long way when it comes to connecting with other people. Meeting professionals, seeing what they’re up to, and catching up with them doesn’t take an extraneous
amount of time, money, or energy. These are easy skills that will only benefit you throughout your career! Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to learn new things, be recommended for positions, and make a new friend for a lifetime
Arlene Isardat, Account Executive