By Kelly Hayes
You have just attended your weekly PRSSA meeting about networking but you’re still stuck. You might ask yourself, “How do I contact these professionals without seeming like a total creep, or annoying?” However, if you ever have professionals speaking at your PRSSA meetings, don’t be afraid to be friendly and network. Follow them on twitter, shoot them a thank you email for their time and advice, or just go up and speak to them after the meeting.
PRSSA is a great tool for networking with professionals, but how do you network with professionals you have never met? Two words: Twitter and LinkedIn. If you don’t have a Twitter and you are studying public relations, you need to get one. It’s quicker than Facebook and almost every public relations professional has one. For me, Twitter has been a great networking tool because I want to work in the fashion sector of public relations even though I don’t personally know anyone who works in fashion PR.
As soon as I realized I wanted to work in fashion PR, I followed fashion magazines and major designers. From there I started to follow employees of those companies and PR firms that had fashion clientele. I started to read blogs like PR Couture and NYC PR Girls, and began to look at fashion websites and their job listings for PR companies. Eventually I found agency after agency that did what I aspire to do. I even gained followers of those companies! If you follow somebody, there is a good chance they will follow back.
The next step was to reach out to some of these PR professionals. Just a quick tweet to them about events going on at their agency does the trick. Don’t forget to be polite and thank them for the follow if they do follow you! Now, if you find an agency on twitter where you are itching to intern, tweet at them asking if they are taking interns for the summer. It never hurts to try, but make sure the spelling and grammar is correct. It’s easier than you’d think to mess up a 140 character message. If you try the Twitter route, I guarantee it won’t be a waste of your time. It has worked for me and if you do it correctly, it will work for you.
Another way to do reach out is LinkedIn. Again, if you do not have a LinkedIn, I advise you to get one. Whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, it doesn’t matter. Update it, connect with professionals and join groups. I have had professionals reach out to me and vice versa just to network. Always have questions ready because you are always learning new things in PR and who better to ask than the professionals themselves?
Twitter and LinkedIn are great tools for networking. If you reach out to professionals using these tools, it shows you are proactive and involved in what you are doing. If you meet a professional, keep in contact with them, even just by connecting on LinkedIn or following them on Twitter. Professionals have been in the exact same spot as you and are usually more than willing to help. To conclude, there are three things you should always remember: 1) Don’t be afraid. 2) Thank the professional for the advice and taking time out of the day to answer you and 3) Never give up. Just because one says no, it doesn’t mean the next one will.