It’s nothing new! We all know that Public Relations is highly dependent upon networking. Why? Well if no one knows your name then your office phone will never ring. It’s a simple I have friends and they like me science folks! No one wants to work with Mr. or Ms. No Name. It’s essential to stay on top of networking because if you fail to make an amazing impression and/or have no web presence, then you are forgettable, and forgettable people…simply put…do not exist. It’s not about meeting everyone, just about meeting the right people, and maintaining good relationships. Keep reading and allow me to share with you some helpful hints on where and how to place yourself within the world of networking and what you need to do once you are in there.
Networking Is More Than Just Handing Out Your Business Card
Yes, it’s hard to believe that the day-in-the-life of a person in PR isn’t all glitz and glam, and rubbing elbows with the elite—not! People who are not involved in the PR industry find it hard to grasp this concept. It’s not all play; we work hard, and even when we do “play” it’s actually work! Don’t get me wrong, of course you should keep your business cards in your clutch, or pocket and hand them out whenever you get the chance. But make sure you get their cards too. The key to kicking off a relationship is to strike a chord with people. Relate to them. Don’t just take their card and shrink away to the background. Ask them about what they do, how they got into their field. Strike up a genuine conversation about something happening within current affairs or speak about family, kids, anything. I’m talking real conversation. Not rehearsed, and not scribbled out on the back of index cards. People appreciate genuine connections. Genuine connections are memorable. On the other side of things, when you do receive business cards while networking, it is extremely important to write some extra information to help you remember this person on the back of their card immediately. I promise by the time you get home you won’t even remember what they look like without doing this. Shoot them an email, or better yet write out a little card that touches on a subject you spoke of, like their child’s upcoming basketball game or a restaurant you have both wanted try. They will remember you and think fondly of the fact that you remembered them, the small amount of time and conversation that you have both shared. VOILA! You have successfully made a genuine connection through networking. This is officially the beginning of a beautiful business relationship.
When Networking, Do Not Pitch!
Do not pitch, I repeat, when networking DO NOT PITCH. I cannot stress this enough. There is always time for that later. You can speak about what you do and make sure that you stress that you do it well. However do not ramble on into your sales spiel. Pitching throws people off, they know that you are just trying to make a sale. It is a common misconception, networking is NOT about pitching. It is about genuine connections and building relationships.
Social Networking Does Not Solely Depend on Facebook and Twitter Pages
As I stated earlier, a web presence is essential these days. How do you find out about some of your favorite things? I don’t know about you, but I Google religiously. And if I can’t find it on the first page, then it simply doesn’t exist. If the company’s site doesn’t pop up first, then you usually get their social media accounts. Facebook and Twitter are nice to have when you’ve got upcoming events and exciting announcements, but what about professionally? It’s less about hiding your embarrassing drunken girls’-night-out pictures, and more about making sure your work history is out there and ready to be seen!
You cannot rely on the same social networks that you use to commonly connect with your friends. Newsflash, there are other social networking sites out there! Try professional networking sites like LinkedIn.com and MeetUp.com. Find people that have similar business aspirations on these sites, and make sure you communicate with them. They’re looking to network too! LinkedIn even has groups to help you keep up with the 411 of your own profession and field of choice. If you are to be your own publicist, or represent your company in the way that a seasoned PR Person would, then you must take full advantage of these sites.
Get Out of the Office and Show the World Your Company Exists!
Once you’ve set up all of your accounts, and you’ve been communicating well with other industry professionals, it is not time to take a break. In fact, it’s time to work even harder. Okay, so you emailed back and forth with the cute CEO of a small event production company. Now it’s time to get out there and do something about it! No, I’m not referring to a hot date, and NO, I don’t mean sending your intern to stand on the corner handing out business cards and flyers for you. Learn to attend in-person networking events. I say learn because it is a process. It takes practice to work a room so don’t expect to feel oh so comfortable doing it on your first few times out. Simply Google industry networking events for your field within your city or town and get started! RSVP and don’t forget to bring your business cards, a pen to write some interesting facts that I talked about above, and anything else you might need to make a good first impression. A little lipstick and deodorant never hurt anyone! The point is to network, network, network! It’s also not about meeting a tremendous number of people, but about meeting the best people that could benefit you.
To make it easier and cut out the middle man, Google, and the straining of your eyes as you glance over all the possible networking events, you can also join MeetUp.com, as I stated earlier. This site cuts out the endless searching by giving you a network of local groups you may be interested in. So log on, and find your fateful little groups and meet up! it is also smart to attend meet-ups and networking events where your client base lives. For instance if you are a photographer attend events for Models. But remember DO NOT PITCH.
Congratulations! With these helpful tips you are now ready to get out there and network—the right way! Remember to stay focused on promoting yourself and your company. Keep your networking goals in mind and follow these tips, and I promise you will accomplish things you never even thought of.
To learn a bit more about launching your very own Public Relations campaign, tips and tricks visit http://www.prlearningcenter.com.
Author: Wendy Vazquez of Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR