By Emily Pasi
Communications and Outreach Associate
American Planning Association
Networking. Never has there been a word that I’ve had a stronger love hate relationship with. Hearing the term conjures images of forced conversations and the occasional clammy palm. It’s the thing I know I should do whenever the opportunity arises, but that often competes with my post-work yoga class. To put it simply, convincing me to network isn’t always easy. That’s why I changed the way I think about it.
Networking is storytelling. It’s my opportunity to tell people who I am and what interests me. It is also an opportunity to hear my colleagues’ stories and learn about who they are as people and PR professionals.
At this month’s PRSA-NCC happy hour for new professionals, I tested out my new approach. Spoiler: I was not disappointed. Not only did I speak with more attendees than ever before, but I also learned more by actively listening and asking the follow up questions that told me more about each person’s story.
Networking is often thought of as a ‘what can people do for me’ kind of social interaction. From experience, I can say with certainty that it’s better to go in with the expectation of simply getting to know someone for the sake of getting to know someone.
The moment I changed the frame for which I view networking, the moment I actually learned what networking was about – building new relationships with people who can teach you something about the profession and maybe even a little something about yourself along the way.
While I’ve taken an important step in the right direction, there’s still much to learn. Fortunately, I have many opportunities to practice with seasoned professionals thanks to PRSA-NCC’s plethora of trainings and socials available in the DC Metro region.
So cheers to the next time I hear someone reference networking. May my palms stay dry, story stay clear and new outlook stand strong.