These days, and especially in PR, it’s a lot about who you know, rather than what you know. After all, Public Relations is all about relationships and connections. So in a world where a lot of us are afraid to pick up the telephone and speak out loud to people, how do we go about making connections?
You don’t have to go to one of those fancy and intimidating networking events and hand out tons of business cards – I think those days are a little behind us. Like most things, networking has gone digital. It’s so easy to connect and introduce yourself online. This is also the reason why your image and public social media accounts are so important, because you know that an employer will Google your name before offering you an interview, never mind an actual job.
A lot of people that I have made connections with from having this blog, I am yet to actually meet. But I still consider them friends, mentors and people I can turn to for advice or guidance. Below are five ways I’m networking in today’s modern world.
The best way that I’ve found to network is through Twitter. You’ll notice a lot of social platforms will be on this list, but that’s just the way the world is right now. It’s no longer connecting through a friend of a friend. You can just follow them on Twitter, tweet them or if you’re so inclined, DM them.
Even by just following someone you admire or look up to career-wise can make them notice you. They might have a look at your Twitter profile and follow back. Next thing you know, they could be replying to your tweets, reading your posts and engaging with you on a daily basis. You just have to make the first
I suppose this should probably be at the top of the list as networking is the purpose of the site, but I don’t make as many personal connections on LinkedIn as I do with Twitter.
I find the LinkedIn homepage a little frustrating as I see the same articles day-in and day-out. Engagement with statuses and posts on LinkedIn can be odd – sometimes you’ll post something and then all of a sudden, five days later, you’ll receive a lot of traffic from it.
It depends how you use LinkedIn I suppose. Mainly I only connect with people that I personally know/have worked with or people that have a job that I’m really interested in. I try not to connect with Tom, Dick and Harry and anyone else that randomly tries to connect as I want to see posts from people that I know and accounts that I’m interested in on my homepage.
Where 99% of my PR and blogger connections have stemmed from, through interviewing women in PR for my #GirlBossMonday series, being interviewed myself or connecting with readers and those who have a shared interest for public relations. For a career in PR, especially as a student, I couldn’t recommend blogging enough. It doesn’t even have to be a blog about public relations, but showing that you can write, manage a website and its social media pages? That’s valuable skills to have when it comes to looking for a job!
Blogging gives me so much visibility when it comes to connecting with people. From students searching for a ‘PR Blog’ or ‘PR Student’, they’ll likely come across this site or any of the other PR bloggers out there. I love that I can call so many PR bloggers good friends of mine, as once I graduate, I’ll be out in the PR world and will have them to call upon if I ever need any guidance or inspiration.
Believe it or not, you can actually make professional connections on Instagram. We could get into a very detailed discussion about the pros and cons of Instagram and effects on mental health, but it all depends on the accounts and posts you allow yourself to see. I mainly follow friends on Instagram and girls that have pretty cool careers.
I don’t follow that many Influencers or Insta-famous accounts as I know that can sometimes make me feel self-conscious when I start to compare myself to them. But when I see people like @holliemercedes living in Amsterdam and working for Tommy Hilfiger, I feel inspired. Or @lauren_guilfoyle who works in sport media in Ireland, or @maddyalford who works for Cosmopolitan, it motivates me to work harder and someday end up with amazing jobs like them. Plus they often host Q&As and it’s always a good way to find out more about what they do!
Little bit of a plug here, but I’ve now made a separate Instagram account for my blog which you can find here. I’m hopefully going to use it as much as I possibly can but I won’t be posting Instagram stories of me sitting in Irish bars in Liverpool at 6am, you’ll be glad to know. However, if that’s the kind of content you are into and want to keep up with my life outside the blog then you can of course follow my personal account here – it will be going private pretty soon. (Once I reach eight posts on my blog Instagram I’ll connect it up top, I just haven’t got the aesthetic right for it yet).
Perhaps a more formal way to network, writing an email to someone senior could be a great way to get your name out there. I’ve sent many inquiry emails to agencies for work experience, when I was looking for a placement or even just wanting to say hello. If they don’t reply, they don’t reply, but what if they do? You’ve got a new connection and maybe an opportunity that wouldn’t have been advertised.
Email was how I interviewed most of my #GirlBossMondays and it was great as I’d sometimes wake up at 2am with an email from someone in America or Australia. From that series, I now have connections all around the world and even connected with them on social media after getting to know them on email.
If there’s someone you admire, want to get to know or introduce yourself to, then drop them an email. Honestly, what harm can it do? Just try not to send it to a generic ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or say ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. I could go on forever about how to write an email but I’ll save that for another post.