While everyone “knows” that having an impressive list of contacts is an imperative part of public relations, it’s hard to put your finger on where exactly to start or what to do to build your network. Whether you are just starting out or in the middle of your career, there are absolutely ways you can work on your social skills and make some new acquaintances and friends. Not only will it teach you some important PR lessons, but who knows what it could lead to – a job opportunity, some new friends, and fun experiences!
Here are a few ways you can navigate a beneficial, successful network:
Build your own virtual profile – Make sure your LinkedIn account, Twitter feed and Facebook are professional and express your personality. If you’re really looking to build your contact list, it’s time to drop the college party pictures and TMI tweets. As much as you want to connect with others, make sure others will want to connect with YOU
Go in it blind – Do you have some favorite bloggers, tweeters, or club members that you would like to learn more about, and potentially learn from? Send them a message via LinkedIn or Twitter, and ask to take it to email to talk more about a topic you need help in. Though this might seem a bit bold, you’re technically pitching yourself to a friendly audience – the best kind of PR practice!
Follow up… always – If you met someone super interesting at a party or a friend of a friend is in a field you have an interest in, be sure to write them a note or friend them on Facebook the next day. Don’t let the new connection die, and be sure to say what a pleasure it was to meet them and you look forward to catching up soon
Try double dating, or play third wheel - Does your friend always brag about her amazing boss? Are you jealous of the group of PR girls and boys your roommate hangs out with? Does your aunt have a friend whose daughter is an Account Manager at a dream firm? Ask to be set up on a coffee date or join in the next group hang out. Even if your friend/roommate/aunt is present, it’s a great way to break the ice and meet new people
How do you navigate your network?