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Building your network

Posted At: April 24, 2012 5:10 PM
by Mariah Fairweather

Through my past four years at The University of Alabama, I have learned many things about the PR field. One of the most valuable pieces of information I have learned is to always continue to build your professional network.

Undergraduate public relations students have many opportunities to start building their professional networks while working on their degree. Building a strong network as an undergrad will help in the future when it is time to start the job hunt.

As the New York State Department of Labor notes, “Eight percent of available jobs are never advertised, and over half of all employees get their jobs through networking, according to BH Careers International.”

Getting involved
Getting involved is the first step to building your network. There are many professional organizations students can join.

Public Relations Student Society of America and regional PR associations, such as Southern Public Relations Federation, offer opportunities for students to network with other students and professionals. These organizations provide chapter meetings, regional and national conferences and workshops.

Another great opportunity to network is by joining your school’s student-run PR firm. Joining a student-run firm allows students to not only build their résumés and gain hands-on experience, but also allows students to work closely with the firm’s clients.

In addition, many colleges offer PR positions through the student government association. Even though the organization is not PR specific, it provides ample opportunity to meet leaders in the community.

Attend networking events
Attend as many networking events as you can. These can be anything from your PRSSA chapter meetings to national conferences. When attending networking events, it is important to be prepared. Make sure you are dressed appropriately, act confidently and bring plenty of copies of your current résumé and business cards with your contact information.

Take advantage of every opportunity
You never know who will be sitting next to you on your next flight or bus ride. Make sure you have your elevator pitch ready to go. Mashable gives five tips to delivering the perfect elevator pitch:

1. Find the sweet spot — “A great pitch succeeds if it draws interest from the other person and gets them to want to know more.”
2. Speak like a human being
3. Exude confidence
4. Ask questions
5. Practice

By taking the time to get involved, attending networking events and taking advantage of every opportunity to meet new people you will expand your professional network. Sometimes it really is about who you know.

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