Published on April 18, 2023, at 9:58 a.m.
by Emilia Ciezadlo.
We are always told that networking is everything. It’s all about the people you know. You need to put yourself out there. You need to leverage LinkedIn as a resource. But, are we ever told how to present ourselves and build relationships when networking? As a public relations student with extensive networking experience, I’ve been there, and here’s what I’ve learned:
Setting yourself apart
Recently, I partook in an Industry Immersion trip to Los Angeles, where I met with professionals from companies like Warner Bros., FleishmanHillard and the National Football League. Overall, it was such a great learning experience meeting with esteemed alumni from The University of Alabama. On this trip, I implemented a few tactics that resulted in additional connections and conversations with the professionals. It goes without saying that being engaged in any conversation is important, but planning questions in advance will set you apart.
In PR, we research and analyze our publics to deliver the best results. The same goes with networking. Researching a company and coming prepared with unique questions will already get you ahead of the game. To take it even further, following up after your initial conversation shows persistence and thoughtfulness.
It’s important to ask yourself what kind of image you are attempting to portray. A cool, calm and collected professional? A bubbly, energetic creative? It’s important to curate professional resources, like résumés or LinkedIn profiles, to match the reputation you are upholding. LinkedIn Learning has over a thousand resources on résumé building and suggestions. As for templates, this is where you can get creative; however, if you are struggling on a design, Adobe Express offers over 50,000 different options.
As aspiring PR practitioners, we are wired to think that everything has a brand or reputation. Whether you like it or not, you have your own brand, especially when it comes to the professional space. Your résumé, LinkedIn and networking style all contribute to it. Fortunately for us, we know a thing or two about creating a desired image.
As we have learned from crisis management cases, maintaining an honest and authentic persona will always shine through. As humans, it’s easy to distinguish someone who says they’re authentic versus someone who actually is. Ensure that your networking efforts are genuine and showcase that you are truly wanting to learn from the professionals you meet.
Using your resources
As PR students and aspiring professionals, we are so lucky that our field can relate to everyday life. As you build these networking relationships, think back to all the times you studied an organization’s publics in depth. Networking is no different than building strategic relationships. With these resources at your disposal, the professional world is your oyster!