This week I’m attending my very first PRSA International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference offers a mix of educational sessions and an opportunity to meet PR professionals from across the word. In preparation for the event, I thought I’d provide some tips to my fellow young professionals for getting the most out of this and future networking opportunities.
- Have your elevator pitch down-pat. A great elevator pitch is crucial to engage others during a networking event. You’re going to meet a lot of people, and if you want to grab their attention, you better do it quickly. A great boss or supervisor will take the extra step to ensure you have yours perfected before attending your first networking event (I know mine did). Introduce yourself and give a brief background on your company, for example:
- Where is it located? How many locations do you have?
- What do you specialize in?
- What types of clients do you have? (If applicable)
- What are your primary job responsibilities?
Be sure not to ramble on too long about yourself, though – elevator pitches are supposed to be quick!
- Put down your phone. If you don’t know anyone at an event, the worst thing you can do is to be antisocial and glued to a mobile device! When I first started attending networking events in college, I would often turn to my phone instead of actively introducing myself to others. As you grow as a professional, that urge will disappear. You will realize after your first few networking opportunities that having your phone as a crutch is only going to hurt you. If you have your elevator pitch perfected, you can go confidently into a room full of strangers and share you story.
- Be proactive. You may have handed out countless business cards to hundreds of contacts at every event you’ve attended. The next step is to sit back, relax and wait for them to start reaching out to you. Right? The only way you can be sure opportunity knocks is to reach out and grab it yourself. Instead of waiting on others to come to you, call or email new contacts to touch base and remind them of you. Even a quick note saying “it was great meeting you” puts the ball in their court, prompting a conversation.
- Become a follower. In most cases, you hear “be a leader” – but this case is an exception. Creating new connections is the easy part of networking. Maintaining them is the hard part. You didn’t meet all these new people for nothing! Find the social profiles of the people you met. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Follow their company on Twitter. ‘Like’ their company’s Facebook page. Stalk them online (just kidding). You get the picture. Follow them in every professional capacity you can, and when applicable, like and share the content they are posting so they know you have a genuine interested in what they are saying.
I hope some of these tips were useful to you! What networking tips do you have for young professionals?