At the beginning of August, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend PRSSA’s New York Alumni and Interns Summer Reception at its headquarters located in Manhattan’s beautiful Financial District. The evening was filled with great food, refreshments and conversations surrounding the public relations field. I met many seasoned PR professionals, as well as young PR professionals at the beginning of their careers. It was interesting to hear each individual’s career path and learn about other PRSSA chapters throughout the country. I walked away from the event with an awesome goodie bag, new friends, mentors and perspectives about my own journey within the field of public relations. I believe networking events are some of the most powerful ways young PR professionals can take the next steps in their careers. With that being said, it is important to make the most out of these networking opportunities, especially in larger cities. Here are some quick tips that will help you gain the most value out of future networking experiences:
1. Arrive prepared.
This is the most important tip I can give you when prepping you for a networking event. Prior to an event, polish and print your business cards, as well as résumé. You never know who will ask you for your contact and experience information. Even if someone doesn’t directly ask you for your business card or résumé, offer him or her your information anyway. Consider preparing a 30-second elevator pitch about yourself to further impress professionals at an event.
2. Dress to impress.
Professionalism is key. Although some networking events may be held in more laid back settings, such as cocktail hours, it is still important to look your best and display professionalism. Always act, speak and present yourself with professionalism to gain credibility and show others how serious you are about your career. I recommend asking event officials what attire is preferred prior to an event date. Business casual attire is usually a safe option.
3. Be confident.
Don’t be afraid to engage with each individual at a networking event. Exude confidence by walking around the room and speaking with everyone. It is crucial to step outside of your comfort zone and show you have the personality to communicate with a diverse group of people. Kent State University’s PR Program has prepared you to stand out in the competitive world of PR, so show everyone the strength and versatility of a Kent State degree.
4. Ask questions.
Never be afraid to ask questions. You never know when a simple question may lead to a future job opportunity. Seasoned PR professionals appreciate curiosity and critical thinking about the industry. I encourage individuals to think of two or three possible questions they want answered prior to attending a networking event; these may be broad or specific questions. Enter an event with a purpose.
PR is about cultivating genuine relationships. After a networking event, reach out to the individuals that you met, in order to continue conversations and further professional relationships. I also encourage you to connect with your newly acquired contacts via LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Reconnect with individuals within a week of a networking event to ensure you stay fresh in their minds.
Victoria Manenti is a senior public relations major and marketing minor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.