Members of PRSSA-UD got a lesson in networking at the latest Skill Slam on April 10, 2012. Students gathered at Deer Park Tavern on Main Street where they enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and mocktails to simulate the setting of a real networking event. PRSSA-UD invited Jessica Bryk, a former executive board member and current copywriter for Caspari McCormick, to share some of her valuable tips and tricks on how to be successful at a networking event. Jess went over some hints for before, during and after a networking event, which we then implemented while enjoying virgin strawberry daiquiris, pina coladas, and delicious appetizers. Here are 7 key points to wrap up Jess’ presentation for anyone who was unable to attend:
- Know where to network. In order to start networking, you need to know when and where networking events are happening. PRSSA is a great resource and we even have our Spring Networking Event coming up on April 30th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Philly Ad Club also shares upcoming networking events on their website.
- Eat before you go. Obviously you can enjoy the food at a networking event but the occasion is not about the food; it’s about making meaningful connections. Feel free to take a quick break from chatting to enjoy a bite of food but use the time wisely to form relationships with professionals.
- Actions speak louder than words. Be aware of your body language. Don’t let yourself look unprofessional or unwelcoming by playing with your hair, crossing your arms or looking bored. Be friendly, approachable and hold yourself to professional standards for the best results.
- Fly solo. If you arrive in a group, don’t travel in a pack. Be independent and approach professionals as an individual. It’s the best way to make connections, which certainly won’t happen if you huddle in the corner with your friends.
- Prepare your elevator pitch. What would you tell someone about yourself in those 30 seconds you spend arriving at your floor on an elevator? Prepare a short explanation of who you are, what you can do and what you’re looking for from professionals.
- Hand out business cards and resumes. PRSSA-UD members can use their handy PRSSA business cards at networking events to give to professionals so they can remember your name. Also ask if they’d be willing to look over your resume and either review it or pass it along to someone who could help you.
- Follow up. Immediately after accepting someone’s business card, write a “fun fact” to remember them by on the back and email them within 24 hours to thank them for speaking with you. It’s also helpful to create a spreadsheet of contact info, fun facts and when/where you met a professional to keep an organized networking database for future reference.
Most importantly, remember that professionals typically love helping students. Everyone loves talking about themselves so don’t be intimidated to approach a professional and ask them about what they do and how they can help you. Connections can often lead to internship opportunities and even post-graduation careers so get out there and network!
Written by: Jame Lawlor.
Jamie Lawlor is a sophomore Communication Interest major with a minor in journalism. She is an active member of PRSSA and is looking forward to serving as the Program Director on the PRSSA Executive Board for 2012-2013. Follow her on twitter (@JamieLee716) or check out her blog (www.jamielawlor.wordpress.com) to learn more!