By Allie Erenbaum, Board Member and Co-chair of the University Relations Committee for PRSA-NCC
Who do I talk to first? What questions should I ask? How can I hold a drink and a plate of food, and successfully shake someone’s hand?
If you’ve ever asked yourself one of the above questions, you are not alone. Although networking happy hours can be intimidating, they also present informal ways to grow your professional network. From learning about new areas of your profession to practicing your elevator pitch, attending a networking happy hour offers several benefits.
On August 14, PRSA-NCC hosted an August Summer Happy Hour. In addition to bringing together current chapter members, the event attracted recent graduates, young professionals, new members, and new arrivals to the Washington, D.C. area. The event ended up being one of the most successful networking happy hours in PRSA-NCC’s recent history, with 83 people attending.
Consider these tips when planning your organization’s next networking happy hour:
- Bring stakeholders together early. For the August Summer Happy Hour, PRSA-NCC collaborated across committees (e.g., Membership, Marketing and Communications, University Relations, and New Professionals) to ensure far-reaching attendance. Each committee helped facilitate individual outreach to people in their network, which resulted in close to 100 registrations. Getting leadership buy-in and amplification of your networking happy hour will also help generate interest.
- Consider the event’s timing. If one of your organization’s competitors or stakeholders is willing to share their events calendar, it may be useful to sync on efforts to ensure you can attract the widest group of people. If your organization produces events on a regular basis, make sure you are not competing with other initiatives on your own calendar.
- Pricing and location can make or break interest. Professionals already go to several happy hours on their own time with their colleagues or clients. To make your organization’s networking happy hour accessible, keep your price point low and consider engaging, centrally-located venues in your area.
- Remember your audience. Since the August Summer Happy Hour wanted to encourage individuals that may not be familiar with PRSA-NCC’s structure, PRSA-NCC made sure brochures and fact sheets were available for attendees. PRSA-NCC also encouraged chapter leadership and committee co-chairs to attend, ensuring that questions could be answered in real-time.
About the Author
Allie Erenbaum is a one-year Board of Director and Co-chair of the University Relations Committee for PRSA-NCC. Through the University Relations Committee, Allie collaborates with leaders from universities across the Washington, D.C. area to connect students with industry professionals to create job, internship, mentoring, and networking opportunities. She is currently a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton specializing in strategic communications and public affairs. While working towards her degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communication at American University, Allie completed internships at Porter Novelli, APCO Worldwide, and Participant Media.