Real talk: building professional relationships
by Amanda Rodriguez
Yes, we are talking about networking. A big part of Public Relations is reaching out and networking with other students and current professionals in the industry. Why not start now? You can utilize this time at CSULB to begin perfecting your networking skills. Here are a few tips:
1. Don’t be shy
It is okay to feel anxious or nervous but the more you reach out the easier it gets. If you have trouble initiating conversations, then have a game plan. Start with a basic list of questions like, “What brings you here?” then cater them to who you are talking to. Generally, most of the other people attending are in the same boat and are more then willing to mingle. Take the plunge and talk to others.
.2. Attend events
Whenever you can make the time and are free, attend the networking events. There are so many valuable connections in the room. Not attending is a big missed opportunity. Your next internship offer can be in that room. Career fairs are also great practice and yield similar results. It is important to attend the events and familiarize yourself with how the events work. It also gets easier each time you attend.
3. Be genuine.
Reach out to people who interest you and you believe can be valuable. Don’t pretend to be interested just for a connect, it is very transparent. Remember networking events are generally centered around the goal of meeting other professionals. If it is not beneficial for either of your interests, it is okay to acknowledge it move on. Not every interaction will be a connection but that’s okay. There is a room full of other professionals that may be a better contact to have.
4. Exchange information.
You did all the work already so do not forget to get their information or give yours! LinkedIn is generally the best choice for networking online. The platform is centered around connecting with other professionals so make sure you have a good profile. Business cards are good to have on hand as well.
5. Follow up.
Now that you are acquainted make sure to follow up. Connect on LinkedIn or via email if you discussed something that calls for it. Do not be afraid of reaching out and sending a personal message as well when you connect on LinkedIn. Chances are they will accept you request when you personalize it. However, do not get too personal. This is the start of a professional relationship.
6. Have fun.
Seriously. Networking is a great opportunity. Make a game and set goals to amp it up. Try getting at least three connections at one event and challenge yourself to grow that number each time.
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