Networking: The Power of Face-to-Face Communication

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By Libby Page

With the start of a new year, many PR students and professionals are seeking job opportunities. This is a daunting task for most people. From sorting through job applications to assembling the perfect portfolio, the experience is overwhelming.

When I began my personal job search, I felt overwhelmed and stressed as well. Recently I have reaped benefits from networking with business professionals. Many people overlook the importance of face-to-face communication. In a world that is on technology overload, it is important to get your face in the door in order to be memorable.

One of the most difficult tasks is getting the networking process started. I began by making a list of contacts that I had met or heard of through internships, family and friends. Another way to gain contacts is to attend a PRSSA conference or meeting. PR professionals attend these meetings and conferences because they want to help students. Ask a professional if they would be willing to meet with you to talk about opportunities in the field.

Once you gain your contacts, call these individuals and ask if you can set up an informational meeting. Although most people would prefer to send an e-mail, it shows a higher level of interest if you call. Also, most professionals receive hundreds of e-mails a day. If you call you become more memorable to the employer.

Informational meetings are great for learning about the PR field and the opportunities available. Even if the company you are meeting with isn’t searching for new employees, chances are they know someone who has openings. Here are some networking tips to help you along the way:

1. Meet with as many people as possible.
Don’t limit yourself. If you meet with multiple individuals, your chances of landing a job somewhere will increase. It is important not to put all your eggs in one basket. Be willing to expand your horizon and meet with people in different job settings. You will be surprised at the different perspectives and pieces of advice you gain from each experience.

2. Be genuine.
Networking is about creating authentic relationships so that you can maximize your career options. Be yourself so that you can find a job that truly fits your personality.

3. Never ask: “How can I get a job?”
You are accountable for your own success. Don’t make the employer feel obligated towards you. Instead, let the professional know you are seeking guidance.

4. Ask open-ended questions.
Don’t ask yes or no questions. You want the employer to do all the talking. You’re the one who requested the interview after all! So ask questions that will help you. Here are some of my favorites: How were you able to gain success in your career? What are some of the key characteristics you look for in employees? What advice do you have for someone like me who is just starting out?

5. Always follow up with a handwritten thank-you note.
Write a thank-you note to every person you meet during your appointment. Let them know you appreciated their time.

Although the job hunt can be stressful, it also can be interesting and exciting. Stay positive in your thoughts about the future. You have something special and distinctive to offer to the PR field.

What tactics have helped you find jobs/internships?

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