Networking. Some people cringe at the word while some welcome the opportunity to meet new faces, chat, and create relationships based on personal and professional similarities. Me? I’m a cringer, but in the world of PR, networking is inevitable.
With coronavirus changing everything, though, networking looks a lot different these days. No more in-person networking events or meeting strangers for coffee. And handshakes? Never heard of her. Luckily we have all become pretty technologically savvy in our “new normal” (ew), opening up an abundance of opportunities to meet and network from the comfort of your home. Not sure where to start? Here are a few digital networking tips every PR pro should know, with or without a pandemic rocking our worlds.
Before committing to a networking event, spend time researching events that might have gone virtual for the rest of 2020. Make a plan of action regarding the events you find interesting and set a realistic goal to attend one per month. It’s easy to overcommit in our digital world, so setting a plan of action can help minimize burnout.
When you discover an event you find interesting, plan ahead. As PR professionals, we are notorious for creating in-depth prep sheets for interviews, so take that skill and use it to your advantage! Outline who you might be speaking to, include questions to ask, and even add a few talking points about yourself so you don’t let nerves make you tongue-tied. Knowing beforehand what you want to accomplish helps maximize your time and provides your “why” for attending the networking event or speaking to a fellow professional.
Social Networking is Key
Now, instead of connecting at an in-person event, you can reach hundreds, even thousands, of potential networks online. Social networking can help you reach new people and enhance your social and professional circle.
- Online Networking Events
- Because so many in-person networking events were canceled in 2020, use sites like LinkedIn and Eventbrite to find online-only events that pique your interest. A bonus to going online is that you may be able to digitally attend events located around the world that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to travel to before.
- Online Groups
- Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are all great tools to find online groups. Facebook and LinkedIn groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, ask questions and find answers, post and view jobs, make business connections, and establish themselves as industry experts. Twitter also has the ability to group like-minded thought leaders via Lists, and with its real-time communication capability, it makes for a fast-paced networking platform you can’t ignore!
- Reach Out
- Don’t let the fact that you don’t yet know someone hold you back from sending an invite to connect. Simply be transparent, and let them know why you’d like to communicate with them online. Perhaps you admire their recent work, they hold a senior- or director-level title you’re working toward, or they just have insights that resonate with you. You never know – a complete stranger could turn into a meaningful connection!
Follow up with Gratitude
Don’t let your time networking go to waste! To maintain the momentum and relationships you might have created, follow up within at least five business days after meeting a new person. By following up and thanking the person for their time, it will help shift the person from a casual acquaintance to a new connection.
Who knows how long we’ll be in this strict digital world, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop connecting and creating new relationships.
Interested in networking with us? Learn more about the power of PR and what it can do for your company, contact Lauryn Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.