In preparation for the PRSA-NCC PRONet Committee’s April 18 happy hour at Black Finn (Farragut Square area) we wanted to provide a few networking tips. Register for the event and put these tips to use!
When Men’s Health released its “Most Socially Networked” cities list in 2011, it came as no surprise to area PR professionals that Washington, DC came in on top. Members of PRSA’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC), some of the savviest networkers around, understand that our nation’s capital is one of the premier places to “be seen” at networking events. Whether it’s an informal gathering at a local watering hole or a speed networking event at the National Press Club, no matter the occasion, your attendance at these events are a must to expand your rolodex and keep you on top of your game.
So you’ve made it to the event – now what? Maximize your experience and walk away with some great contacts with these three time-tested tips:
1 – Keep the conversation focused on them: Hit it off with someone behind you in line at the bar? Keep the conversation going by asking them plenty of questions (people love talking about themselves). Ask them what they do, where they’re from, where they went to college, etc. and ask them questions about their answers based on something you might have in common or have read recently in the news. Talking to a Penn State grad? You might ask them for their thoughts on the recent scandal surrounding late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, and for their thoughts on how the situation was handled from a PR perspective. Chatting with someone who works on Capitol Hill? Ask them about something you know about his/her organization or legislator that you’ve read lately. Bring something up that relates to them to keep them talking and to keep the conversation natural.
2 – Business cards – USE ‘em! Many of us exchange business cards like baseball cards: they’re pretty exciting to trade, but they typically end up collecting a lot of dust. Work all of those hard-earned business cards by using them to help you remember those you’ve just met. Remember that Penn State grad you just talked to? You might write “Penn State grad” on his or her business card when you get in your car or are waiting for Metro on the way back from the event. Whether you examine your haul from the latest networking event you attended a day, a week, or a month after the event, you’ll more likely remember your conversations with these little reminders of your conversations.
3 – Act like it’s a first date: While the “two-day rule” may no longer exist when it comes to following up with a date, a modified rule can be followed when it comes to networking. Try to follow up with a new contact within 48 hours of chatting. We all know that life gets in the way and with each passing hour, your chances of getting in touch with someone you’ve recently met get smaller and smaller. Don’t have a lot to say? You don’t need to have a lot, nor does anyone have time to read long messages. A hello, a reference to your conversation, and an ask either to get together to chat more or to ask them a specific question about his/her work or contacts is all you need.
By Andrea Slesinski, PRSA-NCC PRONet Committee. Andrea Slesinski is the Communications Manager for the American Society of Hematology (ASH), the world’s largest organization concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders.