You attained accreditation! Now what? Build your network

new-member-lunch

Susan Apgood, APR; Robert Krueger; Sultana Ali, APR; Suzanne Ross, APR, Chair APR Committee; Samantha Villegas, APR.

Recently a colleague and APR panelist with the National Capital Chapter of PRSA Pat Van Nelson wrote an article on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/open-letter-boomers-thanksgiving-pat-van-nelson?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish) sharing her experiences during a job search. She urged professionals to remain diligent in building and maintaining a professional network throughout their careers.

Pat and others like her tell us a professional network is not only a key component of a career crisis management plan, but a resource to gain insights into an industry, referrals for a project and guidance about a specific career path or challenge. The plan isn’t formed on the day you learned your employer was downsizing, the day your partner pursued a job in a different state or the day you achieved your APR. It’s a plan that requires strategic thought, curiosity, risk, accountability and sustained commitment to the changes you want to make throughout your career and life.

As Stephen Dupont, APR, said in his blog, “We are all in the relationships business…sharing what we know, and witnessing the journeys of others is the first step in building a lifetime of fruitful relationships.”

One step you can take in building a relationship network is to serve on an APR panel presentation review. You don’t have to join the APR committee, simply volunteer your skills and expertise for a specific activity. At our National Capital Chapter, APRs volunteer to teach one of six Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities in Jump-start introductory courses. In addition, they lead facilitated study events that “drill-down” into key KSA content, and participate in meet-ups such as the new member lunch Dec. 1, to share experiences and career insights.

Often, APRs are connectors helping those who seek career guidance to meet specialists for information interviews. Additional opportunities to begin or join a conversation include sharing your thoughts through publications such as PRsay, and platforms such as the chapter blog https://theprsanccblog.com or the LinkedIn APR Group and Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/PRaccred, @PRSA_NCC, #PRSAchat, #ItTakesAPRo.

As you contemplate New Year’s resolutions for 2017, add “relationship network” to the top of your career plan goal. At the National Capital Chapter, we’re here to help you get started.

Written and compiled by Suzanne Ross

Networking from a Student’s Perspective

By Patrick Fernandez

George Mason University's Public Relations Student Society of America chapter attended the PRSA-NCC happy hour.

George Mason University’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter attended the PRSA-NCC happy hour.

Last week I attended a PRSA-NCC networking happy hour catered toward students and entry and junior level public relations professionals. Students and professionals from northern Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland attended and were eager to network and share ideas.

A lot of students can find networking to be daunting. I remember when I went to my first networking event, everything was fast-paced and it felt like I had to share every detail of my college experiences in a mere 45 seconds. Networking for the first time reminds me of meeting a significant other’s family for the first time; you have to find a balance between putting your best foot forward while not stepping on someone else’s toes.

When networking, it is important to understand that public relations is a peoples’ business. As intimidating as networking can be, everyone is there to meet others which makes it a little easier. Networking is a great tactic to learn about someone’s job or company they work for, but what makes it even better is when people can create relationships that go beyond professional life. Sure, someone might have an interesting job or might have developed a cool way to measure a brand’s social media sentiment, but what makes networking worthwhile is learning and sharing details about each other’s lives that might not be in their cover letter. Effective networkers share details about themselves but more importantly they are able to listen, comprehend and convey interest in what their peers share with them. To be different is not to change the way you act but simply be yourself at networking events.

PRSA-NCC provides many opportunities for students to network with public relations professionals. After I left this event I realized I truly belong in this industry. I enjoyed being able to network with students at different schools and with professionals who are just beginning their careers.

The success of this event makes me eager to attend future PRSA-NCC functions. As my college career comes to a close I know these experiences are invaluable ways to help boost my brand and make connections in an industry I am passionate about.

Storytelling, Not Networking

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.

Reframing Networking

PRSA-NCC Happy Hour for New Professionals

Members enjoy the PRSA-NCC Happy Hour for New Professionals

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.

 

 

 

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking 3.0

by Patty Nicastri, Hager Sharp

Networking 3.0 EventSnapchat, LinkedIn, Email, Twitter—the number of tools you can use to network is constantly growing. So how do you navigate social media to connect with someone in a meaningful way? How do you connect with influencers in the age of Networking 3.0?

That was the topic of discussion at the February 18 professional development workshop “Networking 3.0: Building Communications Relationships, Creating Opportunities, and Balancing Privacy.” Matt Bennett, senior vice president and D.C. practice lead at Racepoint Global; Anthony Shop, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Social Driver; and Paige Lavender, senior political editor at Huffington Post shared tips and tools to help develop strategic and mutually beneficial relationships. As panelists pointed out, it is possible to over-network and cross the line. By understanding some of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of networking, you can ensure that’s not you.

First the “Do’s”

Networking 3.0 event

Left to Right: Mike Fulton, Anthony Shop, Matt Bennett and Paige Lavender

DO develop a relationship. According to Anthony, “Often, we’re so obsessed with telling our client’s story, we forget the people we want to reach are telling their own stories. The question is not, ‘How can I interrupt your story?’ it’s, ‘How can I become a part of it?’” That means you have to bring something to the table when you reach out to reporters or other influencers. Listening and then responding is the key to building a strong relationship—just pushing out content is not. Relationships must be mutually beneficial.

DO understand who you’re talking to. If you pitch a reporter, you should know what they write about. Racepoint Global uses Field Facts, a proprietary technology that helps identify, analyze, and target journalists, bloggers, and other influencers. Using a tool to keep track of influencer information is a way to be strategic about building these relationships. If a reporter wrote one article on a topic several years ago, it does not mean they currently write about that topic. Also, you should know where to reach the person. Sometimes, Twitter is not the most appropriate place to reach out to someone. Instead, an email or phone call may be more appropriate. Do your research first.

DO utilize social networks. There are so many apps and networks to choose from and, according to panelists, no one is really maximizing the potential of these networks. You can use LinkedIn to see who mutual connections are. Anthony uses LinkedIn to identify mutual connections and will then ask those connections to introduce him via email or phone or in person. Tools like Rapportive can be helpful for identifying these connections. If you’re trying to connect on Twitter, Paige suggests adding to the conversation instead of just following and retweeting. Retweets can be lost if there are a lot of them, but if you add commentary, you’re more likely to be noticed by influencers.

Now the “DON’Ts”

DON’T act “creepy.” Paige suggests thinking of someone’s online presence as a hierarchy. Facebook and Instagram are personal, while Twitter, LinkedIn, and email might be more appropriate for reaching out. Additionally, if you come across information about someone’s family online, it’s best not to bring that up. According to Matt, “If you don’t know the person, family is off limits.” Additionally, if you meet someone and instantly follow and connect with them on every platform, it might be off-putting. A good rule of thumb: If you aren’t sure what the etiquette is on a particular social network, ask someone who is.

DON’T cast a wide, impersonal net. According to Paige, personalization is key. Taking time to personalize a pitch makes her more likely to respond or pass it along. This ties in closely with understanding who it is you are talking to.

DON’T reach out on networks you don’t use. If you only use Twitter to pitch reporters, you’ll probably be ignored. It can come off as impersonal and inauthentic. Also, if you only tweet once every few months, there’s probably a better medium for you to use to connect with an influencer.

###

PRSA-NCC New Member Welcome Lunch

by Jirasith Sindhusake

As a new face in Public Relations, I came across PRSA as a full-time PR intern and dual-enrolled graduate student. With my intentions focused on professional development and networking opportunities, PRSA became the clear answer to attaining my goals. Despite being apprehensive about joining because of my busy schedule, I joined the National Capital Chapter (NCC) in April and became as involved in the organization as my schedule would allow. I am now part of a network of professionals who have been nothing but helpful in helping me achieve my goals.

 [Photo credit: Got Credit - www.gotcredit.com]

[Photo credit: Got Credit]

At this year’s PRSA New Member Welcome Lunch, new members of the National Capital Chapter were invited to the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center in Northwest, D.C. to discover ways to get involved and maximize their PRSA membership. As new members trickled in, the beginning of the lunch was a friendly gathering of individuals getting food and networking with other professionals. It might have been the excitement of seeing new faces, or the enthusiasm of discovering ways to get involved; despite the reason, everyone in attendance was ecstatic to meet other individuals who are new to the National Capital Chapter of PRSA.

After a good amount of networking and stuffing ourselves full of sandwiches, we took our seats to hear from sponsors and chapter leaders. The lunch started with a few words from Chapter President, Mitch Marovitz, who began the program by introducing chapter leaders for the new members to meet. Among those chapter leaders were Lauren Lawson, Vice President; Danny Selnick, Board Member; Katelynn Wiggins, New Professionals Co-chair; Farah Latif, Special Events Committee Chair; and Adara Ney, University Relations Chair.

After brief introductions, the chapter leaders and committee chairs sat with the new members and provided overviews of what the chapter and respective committees offer and ways to get involved. This continued until every committee chair and chapter leader met with each new member tables to share insights. To conclude the lunch, members had the opportunity to participate in a final Q&A session and thank everyone who contributed their time to the New Members Lunch, an overall successful event.

 

Learn more about the PRSA-NCC New Professonals Committee

Networking Elevated My Career

By: Kate Jones
@KateJonesPR

Katharine JonesNetworking, in our industry and especially in this city is standard. It is just as important as knowing how to write a great press release or pitch the media.

How did I grow my network? At first I didn’t really have one. I wasn’t working in D.C., making it that much more difficult to really commit to building my network. However, I knew that to grow professionally and personally I needed to put myself out there. I attended PRSA events monthly and joined the membership committee to elevate my involvement.

While attending a PRSA Young Professional and New Membership networking social, I met and became great friends with a fellow PRSA member. This connection not only developed into a great friendship but also led me to my current employment position.

By networking with industry professionals you inevitably meet peers or mentors that influence your career journey. PRSA networking events are more than chatting and a good cocktail. They are the spark to creating long-term friendships and professional relationships that elevate your experiences and career.

So when you’re super busy or tired or just not in the mood to socialize, just remember that all PR professionals need a strong network to grow.

 

Learn more about PRSA Membership