Following Up on Networking 101 Event


How often have you attended a networking event, career fair or social gathering only to encounter someone who immediately asks you about your job and upon your response, ends the conversation and walks away? UGH! This is such a frustrating occurrence and the 50+ students and professionals who attended our PPRA event – Networking 101 – on Tuesday, October 6, are grateful to keynote speaker Jennifer Robinson for alternative conversation starters. She emphasized the value of asking open-ended questions on topics such as pets, vacation plans, favorite sports teams or restaurants, hometown or current events. Conversations are more meaningful this way because you are more likely to remember your new friend’s story or response. These conversations also have a higher chance of expanding the conversation’s path.

Our open format PPRA event prompted guests to ask Jennifer typically hands-off networking questions such as, “How can I break free from someone that will not leave my side?” We learned that a trip to the restroom, beverage station or a walk across the room to greet a friend are all acceptable escape methods. However, it is important to be firm in your action by having a closing statement that reiterates you enjoyed speaking and mentions your next intended move, such as going to “x” across the room. Then you HAVE to go to “x” across the room to appear credible.

Before your next networking event, remember not to:
– Interrupt the conversation of a group you just joined
– Pitch your product, service or resume
– Ask for a meeting
– Attempt to give out 50 business cards
– Stay chained to your friends you arrived with

There will be time for pitching yourself or service and asking for a meeting after you know this new person better. Remember, the purpose of networking is to build value, show expertise, establish a referral base and increase your visibility factor.

To achieve your set purpose, revisit these “Do” items before your next networking opportunity:
– Arrive early
– Prepare ahead by reading about speakers, registered guests and company sponsors
– Bring business cards
– Connect with the event on social media prior, either by following a Twitter Hashtag or following the event posts or speakers
– Visualize your conversation starters and write them down to review beforehand

Post Event Follow Up
Your success at each event is directly related to your post-event follow up. We learned the best follow up happens when:
– You reach out within 24-72 hours
– You remind your target where you met
– You send something of value that they expressed interest in, related to a conversation you had (example, contact information for your freelance graphic designer)
– You include a personal touch in your note, such as commenting on a mutual interest

After our Networking 101 session, participants speed networked by rotating to seven different tables to meet 14 professionals from a broad cross section of the communications industry, including sports / entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, corporate, agency, nonprofit and academic / higher education.

Our event at the CBS Broadcast Center was full of energy and participants left enthused and optimistic about future networking occasions.

Networking Resources

Jennifer Robinson Book Recommendations
Give and Take by Adam Grant
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

LinkedIn Relationship Tools
15 Ways to Keep In Touch (top right on home page)
Relationship Tool (your connection’s profile has a Relationship Tab under their name with space to save a note about them)

Business Cards
Low Price Business Cards Through Vistaprint

Karen Toner is a PPRA member and marketing manager at KPMG.

Photo credit: Philip Gabriel Photography
For more event photos check out the Facebook album.

Although You’ve Mastered Pitching, Can You Pitch Yourself into a New Role?


Stories about company mergers or acquisitions are daily news in today’s headlines. Journalists love these stories because they usually have the potential to be juicy. Customers, clients, employees, competitors and stakeholders may be heavily impacted. Plus, these mergers can make for a good story over a lengthy period, anywhere from one month up until a full year until the merger is a done deal.

If your company is suspected to merge or be acquired, remember there will be a long time period of merger talk  internally, eventually an official external announcement, followed by a period of working normally,  while aware of the merger effective date.

After recently living through this series of events, I would like to share my recommendations on how to work smart, pitch yourself successfully and be realistic throughout this merger. Hopefully you will never have a reason to implement these suggestions but just in case you do…

When I first learned about this pending merger, there were a few key steps I took (round one) that helped me make a job move six months later.

Round One

Inform your network
Inform all of your professional contacts with whom you have a positive business relationship that your company is in merger discussions and as a result, you are exploring your options.

Refresh Your Resume
Make it perfect. Ask several people you trust to review it. Mark your calendar consistently to update your resume each month as there will be key responsibilities or projects you may forget later on.

Create Your Target List
Consider what companies you would like to be employed at. Make a list of these companies, noting who you may know there or who you may know who knows someone there (second level connections). Start working these contacts. Ask to meet or speak to them at their convenience, before work, at lunch, after work or even on the phone in evening hours.

Get Pitching!
Craft your homerun pitch and become comfortable with it before launching your network conversations. Where do you want to work? What is the work you want to do? What size company? Where should this company be located? What level should your next role be? Why are you searching? Simple: you are not sure how this merger is going to shake out for you. Write down your final pitch and review it daily. You are now married to your pitch so stick with it.

I took all of these steps initially in June, four months leading up to an October merger. I did not learn my job was being eliminated due to this merger until two months after the merger had occurred. That is why it is key to continue working your network with your new pitch before, during and after the merger. If and when you do learn your role is going to end, you will be well prepared for round two of your search. The better you managed round one, the easier round two will be.

Round Two
Reconnect with the contacts that you initially informed about your pending company merger. Share with them your job status change and that you are on the market. Before reaching out, review their company websites for potential job openings that interest you. Even if none of the current postings are right for you, continue informing them of your new undesirable job status and awesome pitch.

Maximize all of your job leads by consistently following up on each one. Never EVER sit tight thinking that you are guaranteed any particular role until you have received an offer letter.

After landing successfully in your new role, it doesn’t hurt to continue practicing to pitch about your background and future interests (within reason!) to your new colleagues.

Karen Toner is a PPRA member who works in professional services marketing/communications. She recommends reading The @ Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton to ramp up your search.  Karen is happy to assist any fellow PPRA members whose companies may be merging with their search and pitch strategy.

Be Part of LinkedIn’s “In” Crowd


Although I hesitate to admit, I think up until last week, I had fallen outside of LinkedIn’s “in” crowd. About seven years ago, it appeared that if you had a presence on LinkedIn, you were connected, hip, current and “in.” But just as keeping up your status as cool in elementary school required some self-reflections every once in a while, such as assessing who were your current recess buddies, LinkedIn does as well.

Toward the end of this summer, LinkedIn launched its open publishing platform. Although I knew about this program to some extent, I didn’t realize how powerful or strategic this tool could be. In just two months, it has taken off, averaging 5,000 new posts a day.

As LinkedIn’s “influencer” program is limited to only 500 professionals at one time (usually reserved for well-known names such as Arianna Huffington or President Obama), the new publishing platform is more likely to be your starting point for posting content on your profile and building followers.

What does this mean for communications / PR professionals?

Free exposure for your client, of course.

A great opportunity is sitting in your hands to create LinkedIn content schedules for your company’s top executives (consider how many LinkedIn members, company employees and prospective buyers may be connected with your company’s lead) and to utilize every chance to encourage the rest of the company to post relevant content as well.

Let’s say you’re charged with creating hype for a tax company.This will only take two meetings to launch your chief’s regular content on LinkedIn.Meet with him or her in January to create six proposed topics (such as tax tips for single filers, homeowners or married filers; using TurboTax effectively; or properly requesting a filing extension). Spend time to thoroughly review each topic and take notes so that you can take the burden off your chief by writing the content for him or her. Now you are equipped with content to share on their LinkedIn profile for the first six months of the year.

Then meet again in the summer. Discuss six new topics and follow the same procedure.Although this same type of content may appear on your company’s website or blog, consider how many people intentionally visit those sites each day. Probably not nearly as many as those who check the posts and updates of their own LinkedIn networks every day.

Consider the benefits to creating a publishing schedule that adequately showcases your company’s services or products:

  • Your original content becomes part of your professional profile. It is displayed on the posts section of your LinkedIn profile.
  • It is shared with your connections and followers.
  • Members not in your network can now follow you from your long-form post to receive updates when you publish next.
  • Your long-form post is searchable both on and off of LinkedIn.

If you’re ready to help your company or client utilize LinkedIn’s publishing feature, wait no longer! You may already be losing admiration with the “in” crowd.

Realize that staying part of LinkedIn’s “in” crowd is more than simply posting content on the publishing platform. It’s about being an expert on the professional site’s newest features so that you can educate others on their value.

More here on LinkedIn’s publishing platform, open to any member with a willingness to write and share.

PPRA Member Karen Toner is communications manager at Baker Tilly, a full-service accounting and advisory firm.

The 2014 Gold Medal Luncheon Is Upon Us


The 2014 Gold Medal luncheon is upon us! Have you registered yet?

It’s time for PPRA to give a big “shart out” to WMMR’s Preston and Steve Show. Please mark your calendars for the Gold Medal Luncheon on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. This honor recognizes individuals and organizations whose accomplishments have left a lasting impact on our community and brought national recognition to Philadelphia.

Preston, Steve, Kathy, Casey, Nick, and Marisa are responsible for not only raising awareness for the city’s Philabundance program with their yearly Camp Out for Hunger, but also shedding light on the dire need for blood donations in S.E.P.A. with their annual blood drive. And aside from their huge hearts, they also make our weekday mornings bearable with their hilarious and unique style of talk radio.

This event includes an impressive lineup of speakers. Speakers for the event include Marc Summers, who many of you may remember as the host of “Double Dare,” “Family Double Dare,” and “What Would You Do?” As well as the captain of our beloved Philadelphia Flyers, Calude Giroux, celebrity chef and author, Robert Irvine and WMMR’s very own legendary DJ, Pierre Robert. This is one event you don’t want to miss out on as it presents the opportunity to network with over 200 influential marketing and public relations professionals in the region.  We hope to see you there!


Upcoming PPRA Events


Dedicated PPRA committee members have been working hard to bring you fun and exciting events, featuring some of Philadelphia’s top industry professionals. Register early and join in on the fun. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Event: “A Smile, A Handshake and a Strategy: Face-to-face networking skills that take you beyond the keyboard.”

Straighten your tie and put on your best blazer. This event is all about good old-fashioned face-to-face networking. Because a simple acceptance of a LinkedIn request doesn’t always cut it.

Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014
Time: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM Registration and Networking
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Lunch and Program
Location: Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia 1800 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19103
Register here!

The Event: “In the Tasting Room with Brian”

Looking to learn about bourbon? Then learn from expert Brian Bevilacqua, our Bourbon Master, who will pair three bourbons with three local cheeses and an assortment of charcuterie and introduce you to the flavors of bourbon as only an experienced pallet can.

Date: Thursday, October 9, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Location: Bank & Bourbon (inside the Loews Hotel) 1200 Market Street Philadelphia,PA 19107
Register here!