The world of public relations revolves around building and maintaining key relationships. Even though social media has made it possible for us to network in our pajamas and fuzzy slippers, but at some point you’re going to need to attend a conference or mixer. It requires you to get off the couch, get cute and put your best foot forward… But what if you’re a wallflower?
Yes, it is very possible to be a media maven, the princess of pitch, or a branding bad ass, and STILL be shy! We can easily put our insecurities aside on behalf of our clients, but we must also master the art of selling ourselves. Taking initiative to show up for ourselves is equally important because the next big opportunity could be in the same room we dread entering.
Here are 4 networking tips that will help you shake your fear and make meaningful connections at any event you attend this year.
1.Determine Your Intention
If you’re going to soar to the top in your career, you’ll need to be intentional about the moves you make. I just need to get out the house isn’t going to cut it anymore. Conclude what you ultimately want out of your career in public relations. Is it to start your own firm? Do you wish to join a bigger national agency? Or do you see PR as a stepping stone to connect with people in other industries that you’d like to transition to? If you get clear about what you want, you’ll know if attending the events you’re invited to are worth your energy. As a result, you can avoid torturing yourself at functions that don’t benefit you.
2.Practice Your Elevator Pitch
You wouldn’t go to the alumni picnic and attempt Beyonce’s “Before I Let Go” Challenge without practicing your moves, so why show up to a networking event without knowing how to properly introduce yourself? Working in this industry, you know that the pitch is what separates the winning emails from the ones sent to the virtual dumpster!
Pull out your favorite pen and notebook (all media mavens have those) and write down who you are as professional, what you do, and how you do it. For example, mine goes a little something like this:
Hi! My name is Michelby and I’m publicist who helps entrepreneurs get media attention like A-list celebs. I’m also a content creator for popular sites dedicated to women of color.
And viola! You now know what my expertise is and how I can be an asset to your endeavors. A key component is being able to express this in less than a minute. If it’s too long or too elaborate to remember, start over. Figuring out your elevator pitch is another way to evaluate if you’re in alignment with your career goals.
3. Give A Compliment That Leaves A Real Impression
Instead of schmoozing about about random things, steer the conversation to meaningful chats that allow you to shine. Rather than telling an influencer you like her earrings and ask to take a selfie, discuss how her participation in a recent campaign elevated brand awareness. In turn, the influencer will be genuinely flattered AND recognize that you have insight on what really takes brand engagement to the next level.
You can still politely ask for the photo-op, but only after you’ve leveraged an impacting conversation. Be sure to exchange contact information after the exchange of pleasantries.
4. Follow Up In A Timely Fashion
People in the industry are busy! No matter who you’re trying to network with, you have to move like it’s your last chance. Follow up with an email or text message immediately. Even though you may feel like you’ve done an outstanding job at making a connection, you must keep a professional tone in your correspondence. Remember that you’re setting the stage to build a relationship that will lead to opportunities down the road.
Michelby Coco Whitehead is a bayou belle who specializes in getting entrepreneurs seen in media like A-list celebrities! Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @cococurator for branding, business tips, and black girl magic.