For graduating seniors, transitioning to the real world can be a scary thing. Where do I find a job? Who do I talk to? How do I talk to them? It’s essential to network yourself and build a foundation of professionals, but the intimidation and weight of making cold calls is a heavy pursuit. As Scripps PRSSA Executive Vice President and a disciple of Britney Spears, I’ve channeled my pop culture inspiration to build connection skills that are “Stronger” than ever. In light of the trending #FREEBRITNEY movement, I’ve gathered some tips for reaching out, inspired by the Princess of Pop herself:

You may get “Lucky” trying

Recruiting professionals to present to our public relations chapter was nerve-racking at first. I often questioned why professionals would want to take time out of their day to present to a bunch of students. But, throughout my search for potential guest speakers, I freed myself from the mindset and weighed out what I had to lose. NOTHING. The worst thing that could happen is not getting a response back. And the famous “you’ll never know if you don’t try” comes to mind when finding the courage to reach out as well. Not only could you be missing out on opportunities through a connection, but they could be missing out on what you have to offer as well.

Message them “Baby… One More Time”

Being left on delivered is not the best feeling and not every go at it is going to be perfect. That’s why consistency and pushing the envelope can sometimes be the answer to building a connection. The number of failed attempts I’ve had reaching out to those in the industry is astronomical, but the number of attempts that corrected themselves through a follow up message are what make up for it. Sending follow up messages also gives the receiver a sense that you’re passionate and serious about what you’re communicating. Also, messages can often times be easy to look past or even make their way to the spam folder. Be persistent and grab their attention!

Speak from a “Piece of Me”

Now that you’ve gotten through the introductory stages, it’s time to talk content. Be sure to make your mark when speaking with whom you’re networking to. I always am trying to remind those around me that although we’re speaking in a professional manner, you will always blend in if you aren’t personalizing your communication. Make the receiver remember who you are by more than your message directly. Use your style, wit, experiences and individuality to set yourself aside from the rest of their inbox and conversations. Having a personal brand starts with your first hello and ends with your final goodbye.

“Gimme More” Feedback

It doesn’t hurt to look for guidance and mentorship in a professional connection. If you’re unsure how to make the most of your relationship, try asking for help and suggestions. Send in your résumé or a portfolio piece to get feedback for how you could improve. Most professionals have been in your shoes and if you’ve hit things off with them then they may be more motivated to help you out. Asking for help also shows your respect for their experience and your drive to be industry ready.

Keep connections on your “Radar”

The grind doesn’t stop after one conversation. Keep relationships close to give both you and your connection future opportunities. Coffee dates, check-in emails, seasons greetings and social media support go a long way in aiding a professional relationship. Taking time to show your appreciation for your network instills the idea that you too are human outside of the work setting. Stay in the know of recent job changes, champion campaigns and career advancements in your network to keep the spark alive in those you’ve connected with.

Incorporating personal interests with my professional development has motivated me as a public relations scholar, and with Britney Spears reclaiming her fame and life in 2021, It’s made it that much easier to take pride in my interests and use them to my advantage. I encourage all those reading to find what you’re passionate about outside of the professional world to help inspire you inside of it. If you’d like to learn more about personalizing your brand, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and I’ll help you “Break The Ice”.


Kaleb Gongwer is a senior communication studies student with a minor in advertising and public relations. He is the 2021-22 Executive Vice President for Scripps PRSSA. Follow him on Twitter here and on LinkedIn here.

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