Last Thursday, PPRA held its’ “A Smile, A Handshake and a Strategy” event. Over thirty PR pros came together, enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Sonesta Hotel in Philadelphia and learned some key strategies about becoming effective networkers. Networking is a long-term effort that requires both parties within the connection to continue to keep building and maintaining the existing relationship, on both a personal and professional level. The Franklin Institute’s Director of Institutional and Government Relations, Rachel M. Fournier, advised attendees to always remain energetic, empathetic and enthusiastic about the positions in which they hold. No one wants to meet someone who appears uninterested in their professional role. We must be mindful that we are brand ambassadors for our company wherever we go and always remain in a networking mindset. Keep these 7 tips in mind when networking.
1. Network with a purpose
Wayne Rosenberger, Vice Chair of Marketing for Score, told attendees to think about the prospective contacts they are interested in meeting and how this connection will benefit their professional goals. For example, if you are in charge of fundraising for a non-profit organization you may benefit most from seeking out prospective donors at industry events. Also, learn how to accept rejection because not everyone is a perfect fit for you and your company.
2. Target your prospective contacts
Consider what kind of events you can attend and where you can go locally in order to run into your desired connections. For example, if you are responsible for growing the business development division for your company perhaps happy hours near specific company locations and attending industry related conferences could direct you to a new group of helpful connections.
3. Plan ahead before a networking event
In some cases, lists are available to event attendees. These lists display the guests that are attending the event, the company in which they work for and their title within the company. Be strategic and make your own list of the top attendees you think you want to meet. Think about sending an email to some attendees prior to the event and introducing yourself.
4. Arrive early and be the go-to person
Arrive early and scope out the premises. Learn where the registration table, restrooms, food set-up and coat-check are located. Being knowledgeable about little details of the event is a good icebreaker for initiating start-up conversation. You may even run into some key connections such as the event coordinator or key-note speakers of the event.
5. Maintain a two-way street connection
Whether the relationship is personal or professional all people deserve respect. No one enjoys being in a relationship in which only one party is benefiting from the connection. Don’t just keep your goals in mind when networking; be helpful and valuable to your new connections.
6. Be visible
Nurture your new and existing relationships by following up frequently. If you haven’t spoke with someone in a while, shoot them a casual email explaining that you came across something during your day that reminded you of them and rekindle the relationship from there.
7. Evaluate your results
After taking these tips into consideration keep track of your new connections and how they fit into the overall improvements of your work-related efforts. Switch up your strategies based on what kind of events you are attending and your intended results. And remember, networking is a long-lasting effort.
This post was written by PPRA member Renee’ Velez. Velez currently serves on PPRA’s Communications Committee. She is also the Public Outreach Coordinator at Stokes Creative Group, Inc. Follow Renee’ on Twitter @rvelez88.