Do You Know How to Network? - Networking 101 Recap
As a public relations student, I was always told to take advantage of my network, but what does that mean? I’m a senior in college and I'm still not exactly sure what it means or how to best use my network. I know having a network is essential to working in the communications field. I know I would not have my current internship without connections I have made. I know in a few short months I will be graduating and my network will be essential in finding a job. So anytime I get the opportunity to go to a networking event, I go!
Every fall, the Philadelphia Public Relations Association (PPRA) puts together a student program called Networking 101. This event helps students learn some tips and tricks on how to network while also allowing students the opportunity to meet with professionals in the field. This is a great way for public relations and communications students to come together and learn from some of the best professionals in the Philadelphia area.
This year’s keynote speaker was Ernest Owens. Mr. Owens is an award-winning journalist and editor for Philadelphia Magazine’s G Philly and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC. The evening started with students from several different colleges and universities around the Philadelphia area meeting and catching up with each other. Shortly after, the program began and Mr. Owens started to speak on several different tips about networking.
Mr. Owens shared his advice on how to best network as a student. The first thing I learned was how not every meeting with a professional needs to be a formal exchange of business cards. Sometimes the quality of the connections is better than the quantity. Along with exchanging business cards, make sure to follow up after. Non-formal events are another way to make connections without realizing it. When attending specific networking events, having a networking mindset is easy. However, in some cases, you're not always at a formal networking event. If you meet someone at a non-formal networking event they could still be an important person to add to your network. Connections are made anywhere at any time, so it's important to be prepared.
Another thing I learned is to be more straightforward when asking for favors or questions from a person. Mr. Owens made a point on how a simple favor can be asked over email rather than spending time and money on coffee. While coffee breaks are a great way to catch up, most times it's easier to ask the question over email. It saves time and effort for the person being asked. So save the coffee breaks for people you have a deeper connection with and ask the question over email.
After Mr. Owens finished speaking, students in attendance at the event were able to network with several other PPRA members. Some of these PPRA members have been in the industry for years while others were in the students’ shoes not so long ago. It was very beneficial to hear stories and insights from both perspectives. In the end, Networking 101 gave me some important tips and tricks as I continue to move forward in my career.
This blog post was written by Chelsea Seidel, President