Three Tips to Nail Your Next Networking Event – PRONet Happy Hour 4/18

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.

Educational Happy Hour?

So the saying goes that it’s not always what you know, but who you know.

While one could argue the merits of this statement, one thing that rings true is how important it is to network and stay connected. Public relations/communications/media professionals and students, or anyone learning for better ways to network in their respective fields, I strongly urge you to mark your calendars for the PRSA-NCC event, Face-to-Face Meets Digital: How to Improve Your Networking Skills on May 24 at Hager Sharp in DC.

So what does that title mean exactly? Well, one thing that has always remained a constant is that networking remains vital when it comes to promoting oneself or developing business. However, what has changed is the avenues that professionals are using to network. With the advent of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and personal and professional blogs, today’s professionals are able to communicate and connect with one another quickly and more easily in this digital world.

While some may argue this seems impersonal unlike the good ‘ol days of meeting people by word-of-mouth or cold calling, digital networking opens up a whole new world to the networker… finding others in their online network with similar career goals and paths ….and it often takes the fear out of it. And it is these digital introductions that now often lead to face-to-face interactions. I think we all can agree it is much easier to invite someone to connect on LinkedIn or join an online professional networking group to start a dialogue than it is to call someone up blindly.

Our three panelists — Heather Huhman, Founder and President of Come Recommended, Margie Newman, Founder of DC PR Flacks, and Dan Lyons, President of Lyons Public Relations and Founder of DC PR Lunch Crew — will share their personal experiences and offer advice on using social media for networking purposes.

Why should I attend you may ask? Well, our hard-working PRONet Committee decided to think outside the box and while we are proud of our Happy Hour events that we hold throughout the year, we wanted to offer something educational and on a subject that everyone can relate to and potentially benefit from — whether you are a student looking for a job, a veteran looking to generate more contacts or business, or someone looking to change fields.

And yes, I used the word “educational,” but that does not mean boring. The event will include a welcome speech by 2010 WWPR “Washington PR Woman of the Year” Debra Silimeo of Hager Sharp (who is so graciously hosting our event), a lively panel session followed by Q&A, and a reception with hors d’ouevres and drinks where attendees can practice their networking skills.

We hope you will join us for an evening of networking enlightenment and fun! Space is limited and online registration ends on May 20. Register here, http://bit.ly/iI2VaH.
—Sherry Perez
PRSA-NCC PRONet Chair