Whether you’re a junior or a seasoned communication professional or public relations (PR) specialist, your network plays a critical role in your career.
By expanding your network, you might see results in your job search, in the quality of your professional relationships and in your knowledge of the communications and PR industry.
Below are four tips that can help you to step up your approach to networking.
1. Connect outside of your niche
Networking with others in the industry, no matter the level they’re at, can be key for finding out about job opportunities that could be the perfect next step in your career. Also, think outside of the box when you’re making connections. For example, if you work in a PR agency, connect with others working on the corporate side or at a non-profit organization. You might learn about industries or roles that you might not have originally known about or considered.
Although you might not land you a job right now, a person in your network might reach out if they or their team is hiring in the future, and it could be in a field that you hadn’t known about before.
2. Fish where the fish are
Make connections with others at events, workshops or conferences, whether they’re in-person or virtual (which is most common while physical distancing measures are in place). Professional associations for the PR and communications industry, like IABC and CPRS, also serve as hubs where other professionals convene.
3. Add a personal touch to connections on social media
If you identify someone on LinkedIn (or another social media channel) that you’d like to connect with, be sure to customize your introduction message. If you’re striking up a new relationship, make it clear that you’re looking to learn more about their experience and their past and current roles as you explore the industry, and would value any insights that they can share.
Commit to following up once you connect to convey your interest and to see if they’ll conduct an informational interview with you. However, don’t over-do the frequency of your messages to the point of cyber-stalking them, and don’t persist if they say they’re not able to help you.
4. Make the most of informational interviews
Informational interviews are a critical tool for fostering relationships. Not only do they provide an opportunity to learn from others, but informational interview subjects might later reach out to you about a job opportunity if you make a good impression.
In these times of physical distancing, virtual coffee dates are a great substitution for in-person ones. Be sure to send your interview subject a clear way to connect (for example, your phone number or a Zoom meeting link) and be early.
Want to make a splash? Consider sending them a virtual gift card in a small monetary amount to cover their coffee. For example, Starbucks allows you to send gift cards via iMessage and email.
Read my post on nine tips for successful informational interviews for other tips to help you ace your next one.
That’s it! Can you think of any tips that aren’t listed above? Please share them in the comments.
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