Networking. Every PR student and professional has heard of it. What is networking and how we do it helps, you asked. Networking is what we do as PR professionals to develop relationship with future and current clients, reporters, other PR professionals and industry thought leaders. It is safe to say the networking is important. You probably hear you teacher, your peers, your mentors and your professional community stress the importance of networking. Well, they are right!
Networking can be awkward at times. Even I feel a little awkward going up to some I don’t know and asking them to tell me their life’s story. Do not fear, here are some quick tips I found to help reduce that anxiety at your next networking event.
Position yourself to stand out.
Ever notice how there is a mob of people standing next to the food? Everyone love food and they are magically drawn to it. It a great place to start conversation with the people standing in line with you. Everyone has heard of the phrase, “action speaks louder than words.” Your body language is important. Posture and the way you present yourself can show more about you than the words you speak.
What makes you different from the rest of the crowd? How can you make a lasting impression on the people you meet? Everyone has an interesting story that makes him or her unique. Share it. Everyone has something that one person cannot do. Share it. If you want to network with someone specific, make a point to talk to that person either first or last.
Ask uncommon questions
At most networking event, the first question out of our mouths would: “What do you do?” Networking is about establishing relationships. Why do you ask: where are they from, where did you go to school, what are you hobbies, etc. Asking questions are a great way to find out about the other person and reduce the anxiety of not knowing what to say. Don’t know to say, simply start asking questions to reduce the pressure as well as network.
Speak with power
Try to avoid filling your conversations with “like” and “um.” There is nothing more annoying then those filler words override your conversation and miss the opportunity to make a last impression. Speak clearly and concisely, but also do not speak too fast. Match you tone and speed to the person you are speaking with. Also match the energy. Because we instinctively want to be around people who are like ourselves. The inflection of your voice shows that you are comfortable with talking with people you do not know.
Networking and relationship building are not skill we are born with, and they do not just appear overnight. Practice these networking tips at your next networking event and let me know how they helped you!
Summary by: Justin Taylor, Account Manager
Justin Taylor is a senior at UNC Charlotte. He is currently a Manager and Marketing Team Member for Chick-fil-A. As an NNR account coordinator, he is responsible for managing multiple accounts, and developing and maintaining relationships with clients. Follow him on Twitter: @justintayl0r.
Adaptation from Networking tips for an introvert: Be a confident connector by Melody Wilding on WeWork blog (https://www.wework.com/magazine/inspiration/networking-tips-introvert-confident-connector/)