In public relations, it is not always about what you know. It’s about who you know. Networking is a great skill to learn throughout college so by the time you graduate you can fully utilize it in your career. Networking is a way to connect with people that are in similar occupations, organizations and social networks as you. It is these connections that can help your career in the future.
The first step in networking is simple: talk to everybody! A general public relations rule to follow is the six-foot rule. What this means is every time you are in public talk to every person within six feet of you. While traveling on airplanes, buses or trains, be sure to communicate with the person sitting next to you. You never know who they might be; you could be talking with a CEO of a business who is looking to hire new employees. Even if they are not looking to hire, they could serve as a great reference or client for the future. This means taking business cards from the people you interact with and taking quick notes to serve as a reminder of what they can do for you.
Always make sure to keep in constant contact with the people you talk to from your past. Past employers, coworkers from internships, or professors can serve as the most beneficial people to help you with your career post-graduation. They can help write letters of recommendation, talk to professionals they know in your field of study and provide great guidance as you continue on in your career path.
Networking is become easier with technological advances and the mainstream usage of social media websites. Social media can help you brand yourself. With branding yourself, you will better be able to sell yourself for the job you want. Employers are always checking Facebook and Twitter before hiring someone nowadays. It is important to promote yourself on these sites in a positive light. This is best done by making your profile also be your résumé. LinkedIn is another social media tool that can serve as a great networking site. It is the best way to connect you everyone from past employers to potential future employers. You can use this site to attach a cover letter and résumé for all the companies and people you can ‘link’ yourself to. Making a positive online presence is important because you are always representing yourself and potential employers will always have access to find it.
Lastly, the best way to network is to involve yourself with organizations and people that have the potential to help you further your career. On campus, there are many student organizations that you can get involved with to help you start your networking process while at the University of Rhode Island. The Public Relations Society facilitates public relations efforts for other student-run organizations on campus to allow students to gain first-hand experiences in the field they are interested in studying. It is also a way to network because you are in constant contact with advisors and alumni that can help be a reference to you.
Remember, it is not always about what you know but WHO you know.