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.

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The Art of Honing your Craft

primgThe new year is underway and if you’re like me, you’ve been bogged down with roadmaps, SMART goals and KPIs that are on deck for the next 300 or so days. You’ve mapped out every PR campaign or event you’re going to execute from now until the end of the year and you’re ready to strike (if you haven’t already done so). But where does professional development fit into the picture? If it doesn’t, then it’s time to refocus.

As much as traditional PR tactics are still in play (press releases, media pitching, brand building), PR isn’t exempt from the rapidly changing world around us. This year, make time to nurture your craft, further develop and broaden your industry knowledge.

Brandi Smith-Gordon, Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing Communications, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and PPRA member, says to stay relevant, she turns to influencers on social media and PR events. “I follow influencers on Twitter, attend as many industry events as possible and research best practices shared from my colleagues throughout the country,” she says.

Twitter is a great tool for tracking PR news and trends. Check out PR-focused accounts such as @PRNews, @PRDaily, @PRWeekUS and @RaganComms. Also, you can follow key influencers and PR pros right here in the Philly area. For a quick list of names and PR accounts to get you started, browse through my PR Pros list on Twitter (and feel free to subscribe!). I also find the list helpful for scouting industry events and conferences around the country that’ll help me enhance my knowledge base.

Are you already up-to-speed on PR news and trends? Don’t let your professional development stop there! As the lines between PR and marketing become more and more blurred, some PR pros are taking it as an opportunity to learn more about marketing.

Brandyn Bissinger, an Emmy award-winning journalist turned PR pro, is doing just that. The PR Manager at AWeber says, “Working on AWeber’s marketing team of 16–the majority of whom are marketers and digital marketing experts–has been extremely eye opening for me. This year, I joined the Philadelphia chapter of the American Marketing Association (PAMA) to continue to educate myself on new marketing strategies and tactics that will strengthen the PR team’s collaboration with content marketers, performance marketers, etc.”

Kent Holland, a Managing Director at ASGK Public Strategies in Washington, DC has a similar outlook. “The visual aspect of communications has gotten increasingly more important in the past two years. At ASGK Public Strategies, we hired an in-house designer to help us with infographics, listicles, proposals, creating brand logos and taglines, and online videos. Advertising and marketing firms have had this capacity for a while, but mid-sized and smaller firms may not. Being able to learn from our designer how to think visually has been incredibly important to my professional development — people don’t read as much as they used to, and an interesting visual display of information is now mission critical.”

By nature of our profession, it’s an unwritten part of our job descriptions that we stay up to speed on…well, everything! From current events and hashtags, to trending news and hot topics, we must multitask and have our finger on the pulse of our client’s or company’s industry. In this new year, don’t let PR industry trends and your professional growth fall by the wayside. Take advantage of professional development opportunities that’ll make you even more knowledgeable and marketable in your craft.

Andrea Carter is a Public Relations Specialist at AWeber, a certified news junkie and an aspiring world traveler. Check out Andrea’s back story here then follow her on Twitter @SheLuvsPR and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carterandrea/.

Building Connections through PPRA’s Mentoring Program

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The undergraduate school system is filled with teachers, coaches, and academic advisors as mentors to provide counsel or advice on the future.  In fact, the word “mentor” gets its origins from the trusted teacher and charge for Odysseus’ son, Telemachus, in Homer’s “The Odyssey.”

However, as you graduate from college and transition into professional life, those close, advising relationships becomes an even more crucial concept for success.  Not all companies have onboarding programs that assign mentors, and it can be intimidating to approach people you admire from other companies to form an authentic connection.

That’s why PPRA revived its Mentoring Program: to more easily and formally link specialists of varying years’ experience or different areas of the communication industry to enhance our member’s relationships, knowledge and skill.

Boasting some of the most talented practitioners in Philadelphia PR, our Mentoring Program is a huge advantage for students and young professionals trying to establish themselves in the communications industry.  The best practices, insights and networking provided through your mentor can truly make the difference between a mediocre career in PR and a stellar, successful one.

We encourage you to take advantage of this membership benefit by downloading the sign-up form now.  If you’re not a member yet but would like to become one to gain access to the program, check out our brochure and join today!  

 This post was written by PPRA member Christine Guerrini. Christine is a corporate communications specialist at Aramark, where she provides reputation management, media relations and social media expertise.  Connect with Christine on Twitter (@CMGuerrini) or http://www.linkedin.com/in/christineguerrini.

(Image via)