Networking is an essential part of any Communications or Public Relations professional’s career journey. We hope by now you already know the benefits of networking? Just in case you don’t, we’ll share some.
Networking is a great way to build relationships, gain new opportunities, and stay up-to-date with trends and events in the industry. While you may alreayd understand that having a strong network plays an important role in building a successful career, you may struggle with networking either because of your kind of personality or you really just don’t know how to go about it. If this is you, you’ll find the tips in this article helpful.
Here are the six essential networking tips that every communications professional needs.
1. Attend industry events
Attending industry events, such as conferences, seminars, hangouts and even webinars, is a great way to meet new people and build your network. While you’re likely to meet new people if you only go to work, events like these provide an opportunity to meet them in a more relaxed environment. This in turn makes it possible to have natural conversations and quick connections with strangers.
During some of these events, it is not unusual for the host or MC to make an attempt to get the attendees to interact. When this happens, make the most of it! Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and start a conversation. While you should be prepared to talk about yourself and your work, you should also be genuinely interested in others and their experiences.
2. Join professional communities
We can’t emphasize this enough. Professionals communities are a great way to expand your network and there are so many valuable communities for Communications professionals. When you join communities such as professional associations and networking groups, you’ll be able to connect with like-minded professionals. In addition, these groups usually host events and meeting that provide opportunities for you to meet new people.
When you join a community, please be intentional. Engage, attend events and participate actively in discussions within the community. You can also volunteer to help with events and projects as this will help you to build relationships with other members. The Comms Avenue is a greal professional community to join and if you haven’t done so yet, you can join here.
3. Be yourself
When networking, it’s important to be genuine and honest. Essentially, you need to be your authentic self. Don’t try to be someone you’re not or pretend to know more than you actually do. While personal branding is great, please don’t overdo it. Be honest about your goals and your capabilities so that people can share the right opportunities with you. So, focus on allowing people to get to know the real you and build connections that will be meaningful to you and your career journey.
4. Follow up
After meeting someone at an event or through a mutual connection, make a plan to follow up within a few days. You can send a personalized message or email thanking them for their time and mentioning something specific you discussed. You can also share relevant events, resources and opportunities with them. This will help keep the conversation going and show that you’re interested in building a relationship.
5. Aim to offer value
While people usually think networking is about what you can get, it is really about the value you can give. Networking is a two-way street and no one really likes a user. Offer to connect people with others in your network, share helpful resources or insights, or offer your expertise to help someone with a project. Giving back can help build trust and make others more likely to want to work with you in the future.
6. Maximise your current network
Sometimes, you actually don’t need to connect with new people just yet. How well are you maximising your current network? You have no idea what you are missing out on by not nurturing relationships within your current network. Think carefully about the professionals in your network and how you can be valuable to them. Are they sharing articles on topics you’re interested in? Are they connected to people that you need to reach? Do they have skills that you would like to learn? In what way can you support them.
If rekindling a professional relationship sounds daunting, take advantage of events such as birthdays, work anniversaries or any other celebratory event to re-connect. And be deliberate about staying in touch.
The strength of your network is not determined by the number senior professionals and executives you know. It should be in the amount of value that you give to and receive from the professionals in your network, no matter their level of experience. So don’t ignore your peers are you take steps to build your network.
We hope you apply these tips and become better at networking!