When I joined the public relations industry, I thought networking amounted to a bunch of extroverts gathered at a social event, sharing their success stories over a glass or two of wine. To my surprise, I quickly learnt that it’s about so much more. Networking for PR practitioners is about developing powerful relationships – and it can do wonders for both your career and your business. Here are my 5 top tips to cultivate the fine art of schmoozing:
- Make sure your networking is mutually beneficial. Most successful professionals understand that networking is a two-way path. Ask yourself what’s in it for the other party, not just for you. Remember that everyone has something to contribute, whether it is time, knowledge, talent or performance. Perhaps the most valuable objective of networking is to obtain information.
- Attend both social and business events. PR professionals – in fact, most successful people – are always encouraged to attend industry events, be they social or business. Attend selected events and research new professional and affinity groups that are relevant to your industry. Having a strong network requires continuous building of relationships – it won’t just happen overnight!
- Build those relationships both on and off line. Having face-to-face conversations is still the most effective and credible way of building up your network, with friends, colleagues, customers, clients, and current and former bosses. Also expand your network online through platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Be a helpful, warm and engaging conversation partner. Business cards, a firm handshake, knowledge of current events, and a positive attitude go a long way. Always maintain eye contact, and make the person you are talking to feel like the most important person in the world – don’t be continuously looking over their shoulder to see who else you could be schmoozing to! After your event, follow up with your contact and try and keep the momentum going by staying in touch.
- Be professional at all times. This might sound obvious, but don’t be the one talked about for the wrong reasons. You may be at a social event, but ensure you are dressed appropriately, don’t drink too much, and always wear that beautiful smile!