Networking 101: Go for the Coffee, Stay for the Content

Network.

It’s a word that all communication majors are familiar with, spoken by professors and colleagues from the minute we step into a classroom.

We are told over and over again how critical networking is to securing internships and jobs. However, the actual task itself can seem daunting at times. How do we just walk up to a professional and start a meaningful conversation with him or her?

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Luckily, PPRA offered local Philly communication students some help. Last fall, the professional organization hosted “Networking 101” at the Saxbys Coffee office headquarters. The aim: Join professionals and students in one space where students could practice their networking skills. Students also were able to win door prizes, such as shadow days and informational interviews with PPRA members.

And because the event was hosted by Saxbys, attendees had access to free coffee. All. Night. Long. #DoubleWin

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While the free coffee was clutch (#ThanksSaxbys), students also learned a great deal of networking tips from Justin Pizzi, Saxbys Coffee’s vice president of Sales & Marketing and a former news reporter on NBC10.  

My personal favorite tip: Justin gave us is to ask memorable questions. His favorite question that he was ever asked is, “What is your biggest work failure, and what did you learn from it?” Questions like these are so much more impactful than the regular run-of-the-mill, “What do you like best about your job?” #Borrrrinngggg

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After Justin wrapped up his remarks, students tried out their newly-learned networking tips on the professionals in attendance. We were split into groups and rotated between public relations professionals in the tourism, non-profit, sports/entertainment, and agency sectors. We heard a little bit from the professionals first, and then were given some time to speak up and stand out a little bit. If we wanted to speak to a specific professional for more than the allotted networking time, we could approach him or her after the event was over with the ice already broken. Only now, some of the pressure was alleviated.

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This event was definitely the favorite networking event I ever have  attended. It was low-cost, we networked with numerous professionals from various industries, and we left fully caffeinated.

My biggest takeaway? That there is no set path for public relations practitioners. After networking with all of the professionals and learning how they fell into their current positions, I learned that all of their career journeys were different and there is no right or wrong career choice, as long as you learn from each position. Through networking, I was able to have meaningful conversations with industry professionals and these conversations helped me feel more ready to take on my last year in school and eventually, the “real” world.

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Elise Corbett is a senior at La Salle University majoring in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Leadership and Global Understanding. She is the current President of La Salle University’s PRSSA chapter.

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