Last night, during the #PowerAndInfluence chat few people asked about networking tips. Networking is never easy at first, especially for students. I remember I was extremely shy and nervous at my first event at university. I was scared to talk to my lecturers, not even mentioning the practitioners that came along. However, practice makes it perfect.
1. Go to industry events
Events are a great way of practicing your networking skills, meeting like-minded people and building your professional network. Once you sign up to an event, check the speakers on social media and see what they like talking about. This way, you have a topic in mind when you approach them at the event.
At such events, you will have to get out of your comfort zone. Sounds scary, I know. But just remember that all those senior people were students before. They understand how valuable it is for young people to communicate with successful professionals like themselves, and they will never refuse talking to you. Ask questions about their job, the industry or a recent campaign. Listening and learning is part of the networking process.
If there are no local events that you can go to, ask your lecturers to invite alumni, who can share their journey since graduating. You will get the chance to network and get tips on how to break into the industry.
2. Connect on social media
Thanks to LinkedIn and Twitter, networking is easier than ever. Students can connect with practitioners and follow their careers. Join the conversation and comment on some tweets/posts. Again, ask questions. There are so many successful PR practitioners, who are always willing to talk to students and help them. You just need to approach them. Don’t be afraid to talk to people.
Ella Minty, Stephen Waddington and Richard Bailey are just some of the people, who will always find time to answer your questions.
Once you have built a rapport on social media, you can invite them for a coffee meeting. Face-to-face networking is better as you can discuss a variety of topics and build the relationship.
3. Follow your peers
If you are afraid to jump into the deep waters immediately, start by following your peers from other universities. For example, blogging is a great way of approaching like-minded students. Jessica Pardoe, Orlagh Shanks and Marcel Klebba are fantastic examples of PR bloggers, who have excelled at networking. Read their blogs, connect with them and ask for their tips. All of us have panic attacks when we need to speak with strangers, but by talking with people at your age, you can practice.
For more tips, read Marcel’s posts on networking. And if you have any questions after that, just ask.
For all Bournemouth students, who want to practice their networking skills, come along to “Meet the Professionals” event on 18th March. Book tickets at: https://bumeettheprofessionals.eventbrite.co.uk
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