By Erica Freeze
Planning is essential to designing an effective public relations program. Planning in public relations involves researching, understanding a problem, and implementing a program to solve this problem. Adequate planning will determine if a public relations campaign will be a success or a failure. Because of this, it is important to know how to plan before starting a project both in school and in a public relations career. Here are some tips on how to plan appropriately for your next project:
Break down the elements: Public relations plans are broken down into four main elements: analysis, strategic research, implementation, and evaluation. A situation is a set of circumstances facing an organization. Without defining and analyzing a situation, it will be impossible to complete efficient research or to define the goal of a communications program later in the process. Research helps practitioners define a problem and think strategically. It is important to look at the bigger picture while analyzing and researching a situation. A situation analysis must factor in all parties, including stakeholders, teammates and the organization itself. It is important to accept the feedback of these parties so that a campaign team can predict and establish a goal. Once this feedback and research are outlined with an end date and goal in mind, the plan can be implemented.
Include all parties in decision making: Any public relations professional must be prepared to overcome any obstacles that occur during the implementation of a strategic plan. If a plan is implemented and there were disagreements on objectives, the plan may not satisfy the end goal. If there is an absence of feedback from an account manager, as well as any vital departments and stakeholders, important information and opinion may be forgotten. It is important for public relations professionals to be aware of any obstacles before they happen so that they can be fixed in a timely manner.
Determine success: How will you measure the success of your plan? Just as an organization’s goals and objectives change over time, the performance metrics that your team uses to track progress should also change. Metrics can show not only where the company is succeeding but also highlight specific areas of weakness. As data accumulates, the matrix can display trends and identify places which need improvement. There are tools such as Google Analytics which measure website or social media interactions, and then there are more advanced services, such as CyberAlert, which displays analytics for earned, owned and social media. Depending on the organization you work for, learning how to understand analytics tools is crucial to understanding the ways in which your company is falling short and succeeding.
Public relations is a constantly changing field. It is important to keep on top of the latest consumer trends and to have a thorough understanding of all parties that will be affected by a campaign. In order to launch a campaign, a strategic plan must be created. The capability to think strategically is what helps adequate public practitioners become strategic planners. Without a strategic plan in place, a campaign will fail because of a lack of understanding of a final goal. What are some ways you have found planning useful in your projects?
By Erica Freeze
It is that time of year again, the season of travel! As the holidays quickly approach, many of us are eager to travel the world during winter break. If you are someone who loves to travel, don’t rule out one aspect of public relations that is less spoken of- travel and tourism public relations. Travel public relations’ role typically consists of three major tasks: stimulating the public’s desire to visit a place, arranging for travelers to get to their destination, and ensuring a comfortable stay for visitors once they arrive. While the aspect of traveling in this field may sound appealing, keep in mind that this is only a small part of the job. In any public relations career, you must be on top of the latest trends and news and be ready to tackle any crises professionally. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, here are some tips to see if this is the right career path for you:
Have an industry mindset:
As previously stated, keep in mind that working as a PR professional in the travel industry requires more than just a love for travel. Ask yourself: Am I genuinely interested in the travel industry?
Do I enjoy reading articles about travel trends? Following travel blogs? Am I aware of successful travel campaigns?
Am I prepared for crisis management involving the safety of travelers?
If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, then travel public relations could be your forte.
Get ready to pitch:
The public relations industry relies on publications to get the word out about the clients they represent. In travel public relations this is the same. Many travel public relations firms use bloggers and magazines to promote the services their clients provide. Getting a blogger to agree to post about any of your clients can be a challenge, however, there are certain ways to go about pitching that will help you be successful.
Often bloggers will provide guidelines on how best to pitch to a particular publication. These tips are important to read and adhere to and can create more success for your client.
Also keep in mind that bloggers and all publications seek unique and interesting stories. Only contact them if you have material that is news-worthy and will capture the reader’s interest. For example, if a hotel has recently hired a new critically acclaimed chef who serves up a variety of delicious dishes, then one may consider this newsworthy.
Know how to handle unplanned situations:
Crisis management is a critical part of public relations in the travel industry. A lot of things can go unplanned and some of these things are beyond your control. There can be poor weather conditions which delay transportation or misplaced luggage. Treating travelers well is extremely important in the travel and tourism industry. Travelers have the ability to build or tarnish your company’s reputation with reviews and through word of mouth. Even the best arrangements for guests can fall through and it is best to handle these situations professionally and with care. Being in communication with hotel and travel destination staff to ensure the proper handling of this situation is crucial. If something doesn’t go as planned, staff should be ready to treat travelers cheerfully and with respect to make them feel comfortable and happy. As a public relations professional, it will be your job to convey the importance of a good attitude to travel destination workers and to the clients you represent.
One example of a well-handled crisis in the travel industry was when Carnival Cruise Lines had a series of high profile incidents in 2012 and 2013, including the sinking of the Costa Concordia that resulted in the deaths of 32 passengers and the infamous Carnival “poop cruise.” Because of these incidents, Carnival bookings disappeared, proceeds dropped and the reputation of the corporation suffered. To combat this serious crisis, a new leadership team was put in place and the corporation brought in public relations professional Roger Frizzell as Chief Communications Officer to help recover the company’s reputation.
As you can see, travel public relations is complex. Travel public relations professionals need to ensure that the clients they represent have safe practices and facilities and that all travel staff are professional. In this industry you need to always be aware and ready to combat any crises. Do you think you have what it takes to take on a travel public relations profession? Get in contact with some professionals in the industry to learn more!
By Talia Smith
As Thanksgiving weekend and holiday break are upon us, I think we can all expect an inevitable conversation with a relative that goes something like this:
Relative: How’s school going?
Me: It’s going well, Aunt Maureen. Thanks for asking.
Relative: What is it that you study again?
Me: Public relations.
Relative: Public relations? What’s that?
Maybe it’s just me, but at this point, I am racking my brain for the right words to articulate what exactly PR is. It is hard to summarize the whole industry into a few sentences because each sector of PR is different and the field is changing every day.
I realized after providing a not-so-great answer to a family member that I really should have a few sentences prepared about what I do. Then I remembered there’s a professional concept called an elevator pitch which is a 30-second opportunity to tell someone what you do in the time it takes to ride an elevator.
In preparation for the holidays and the get-togethers that come with it, I encourage aspiring PR pros to create your own PR elevator pitches. Holiday gatherings are an excellent opportunity to test run your pitch in front of a forgiving crowd so when you find yourself in an elevator with an executive seeking PR assistance, you’ll be able to eloquently communicate your message.
To help you get started, here are a few examples about how to construct your own PR elevator pitch. Let’s assume someone asks, “What is PR?”
Provide a general definition and an example of what PR professionals do.
According to the PRSA, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This definition is a great starting place for your pitch but you’ll want to customize it to your own voice.
Public relations is a strategy brands use to communicate with their audiences.
Public relations professionals think of creative ways to help clients reach their audiences.
Public relations helps companies build relationships with the people who make the company successful.
Public relations professionals work with media outlets to share their client’s story to the public.
Follow with a casual, attention-grabbing statement.
You don’t want to pepper your pitch with industry-exclusive jargon. That’s a surefire way to receive glazed over eyes and the classic “I have no idea what you just said so I’ll just nod my head.” Keep it simple and use relatable words.
We do the behind-the-scenes work to help companies shine in the media.
Just like the name suggests, we help companies relate to the public.
We are like storytellers but for brands and organizations.
We take elements from advertising, journalism, and marketing to create a plan to help companies succeed.
Narrow in on what you would like to do in the field of PR.
Now that your listener knows what PR is, tell them what it means to you and how the definition relates to your aspirations.
One day, I’d like to help nonprofits spread their message in order to raise more revenue.
I want to be a bridge between the scientific community and the public.
I want to work exclusively with food and beverage PR to make sure my clients’ products end up in your refrigerator.
I’d like to use my love for writing to help brands get their message out in creative ways.
This holiday season, don’t panic when a relative asks, “So, what do you do?” Taking the time to create your own PR elevator pitch will not only help others understand what you do, but it might even help you better understand what you do or want to do. Make your PR elevator pitch your mantra and hopefully one day you’ll be reciting it to your future employer in an elevator and not to your Aunt Maureen as she passes the pumpkin pie.
By Erica Freeze
In today’s technologically advanced society, more companies are incorporating social media into their marketing and communications plans. For a company’s social media platform to gain attention, strategists should devise a social media plan. Every interaction that is made on social networks should work towards the organization goals. The more time and effort spent on a social media plan, the more effective it will be in its implementation. If your employer asks you to generate a social media plan, here are five ways tips to consider to ensure its success:
Step 1: Define social media objectives and goals
Establishing plan objectives allows you to make changes to your social media campaigns and platforms if they are not coinciding with your goals. Goals need to be established to gauge the overall success of the campaign. When setting your campaign goals, think of the acronym, “S.M.A.R.T.” This acronym is a great way to remember that your goals should be “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.” Some examples of goals may be: increasing company awareness, increasing sales or increasing visitor loyalty. The goal is important to establish because it is the driving force of a social media plan.
Step 2: Conduct a social media audit
A social media audit is a process of analyzing what is working and what is not across your company’s social media platforms. When first starting your audit, take note of post frequency and follower interactions on each channel. From this, you can compare how your numbers change each month or each year. You can determine which platforms are worth keeping, enhancing or disregarding.
Step 3: Construct a content strategy
Creating a timeline and planning the content to post is helpful in the organization and originality of each platform. Cater your content to your company image, your audience, and the platform. An example: Should we post something funny or more serious? Should a video or a status be posted? Once your content is established, you can decide how frequently to post it on each platform. There are many studies that provide useful information about optimal posting times for each medium. Finding the perfect frequency to post can generate more engagement for your content.
Step 4: Engagement
It is important to see how your followers engage with your content on each platform. Keep track of how well each post is doing on likes, shares, and comments. Be on top of both negative and positive feedback. Instead of deleting negative comments, try to turn the customer’s perception around with positive advice and understanding. Showing that you care about your customers on social media can attract more followers and enhance customer loyalty.
Step 5: Evaluate and Alter your Plan
After you have implemented your plan, you should watch for what is working and what is not. You can use an analytics tool such as Google Analytics to provide data on website traffic. Once you see which content is driving the most traffic, you can apply this awareness to new posts. Because social media is constantly growing and changing, it is important to frequently analyze your successes and failures. From this, you can reconstruct your social media plan to best benefit your organization.
By Arunima Bhattacharjee
Last night’s party was a blast! You and your friends drank and today, you decided to share all of those pictures and videos on your social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Your friends will have a great laugh, people will see how crazy you were at the party and everything will remain a memory. Until one day when you apply for a job, and your recruiting employer decides to check your social media. When they see all your pictures from that night, they will either think you are a very social person or they might actually reject you based on what you did in the past.
Social media is a great place for employers to learn more about a potential candidate. About 93 percent of recruiters check the social media profiles of prospective candidates before they make a decision to hire them. And sometimes, what they find can be a major factor in hiring that person or not. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder with 2,200 hiring human resource managers found that 48 percent of hiring managers didn’t hire a candidate based on what they found on their social media.
Now I am quite positive that you don’t want to be that person who gets rejected from a job because of something you posted on social media. Therefore, here are some tips that can help you brand yourself on social media:
Identifying your brand
From the moment you went on cyberspace you formed your own brand. Google yourself, know what’s coming up when you search your name. The privacy settings on Facebook changes often, so be cautious of what is public and what isn’t. Therefore model a good positive behavior. If you want to impulsively post and share things, do it with positive intentions.
Your employer wants to know if you’re really the person you say you are, and social media is there to prove it to them. You don’t have to post things on Facebook or twitter to look more experienced or knowledgeable. You just have to be you (without the drunken pictures of course.)
What you write on social media matters
If you had a bad experience at a previous job, don’t write about it on social media. The hiring manager for your current job prospect will definitely not appreciate what you had to write about your previous employers, and that might put you at risk to getting the job. These 10 people lost their jobs because of something they posted on social media. You don’t want to be them before you even get the job.
Social media is filled with information about all of us. You don’t have to be fake to make yourself look appealing to the job recruiter. However, be conscious about what you post on your Facebook or Twitter. Just be yourself and don’t over exaggerate about your abilities or change your name to provide more security to your private life. Employers will like it if you do have social media because it proves you are up-to-date with the internet and obviously because you have a social life. So go out there into cyberspace and fix what needs fixing.
Guest Blog Post by Josh Wei, Founder of UltraPress, the fastest and cheapest place for custom apparel.
There’s a commonly perpetuated lie in the small business world. It goes like this: “You can’t be successful at PR, because it’s too expensive.” Unfortunately, many SBOs take this statement as fact and never even attempt to develop a PR strategy. As a result, they’re left scrambling to compete against bigger companies with deeper pockets.
While PR can get expensive, it doesn’t have to be out of your price range. For even just a few hundred dollars per year, you can invest in a full-fledged PR campaign that pushes your brand to the top. However, you have to be willing to ignore the noise and silence the myths.
PR Isn’t Optional
Contrary to what some say, PR is not optional. Regardless of the size of your business, the industry you operate in, and the budget you have at your disposal, you can’t ignore PR. As soon as you have a product created and a brand developed, you must begin working on relationship building.
According to business writer Jerome Cleary, there are four main reasons why PR matters for a small business. They are as follows:
Basically, you can’t afford to ignore PR. And while it may cost you time, resources, and money to develop and maintain a strategy, it doesn’t have to break the bank.
5 Free or Cheap PR Options and Solutions
So, how exactly can you do PR on a budget? Well, you need to arm yourself with the right tools and solutions. The good news is that many are free or cheap, including the following:
Out of all the online PR services available, HARO – or Help a Reporter Out – is by far the best. This service works by connecting reporters with a variety of potential sources for stories. It’s designed to be a two-way street that helps both journalists and brands.
The service gives journalists the ability to find relevant stories, while simultaneously allowing brands to secure valuable media coverage. If you take a look at the HARO website, you’ll notice that a number of media outlets use the service, including TIME, Mashable, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC, and more. You can learn more about how HARO works from the brand side by checking out their How it Works page. Subscriptions run from free all the way up to $149 per month for a premium account.
Do you sell physical products? Do you want to get the word out about your product? Tomoson may be the answer. This software manages and matches influencers with brands for valuable reviews and social proof. It allows you to give products away to bloggers and people in your target market with the hope of creating some buzz. You can then see who has received your products, talked about them on social media, and posted about them on their blogs.
There are currently more than 20,000 influencers on Tomoson, and the site is growing by the day. It’s a really great way to kick start organic growth and grassroots sharing. For a business account, you can start out with a free 30-day trial. After that, monthly accounts range from $99 to $499 per month.
Honestly, one of the best things you can do is start guest blogging. You don’t even have to write about your brand or products. Just start building relationships with different industry blogs and make sure a byline is included as part of the compensation. Also, don’t be surprised if it’s the only compensation.
As you start accumulating profiles, you’ll begin to gain some name recognition in the industry. Ultimately, this will lead to brand recognition. And once you’ve built enough equity, you may even be able to start writing about your business and products.
This is obviously a long-term approach, but it’s something every smart business owner should do. These blogging relationships are the modern day equivalent of knowing your local newspaper writers. They’ll help immensely in the long run. If you’re unsure of how to find guest blogging relationships, try Guestr. This website shows you which websites and blogs are looking for guest contributors.
Another very simple thing you can do is get in touch with media members via Twitter. You want to avoid being creepy or obnoxious, but sending an occasional direct message, retweeting posts, and responding to tweets is a great way to make an introduction. After all, you’re much more likely to have a pitch accepted if the person at least knows your name.
Part of being successful in PR is accurately tracking your progress and gaining insights into how your different efforts and campaigns are being perceived in the marketplace. Once your name gets out there and you have multiple things happening, it’s difficult to do this manually. This is where PR monitoring tools come into play.
There are a number of cheap or free options available. HubSpot has compiled a list of the top 18 tools for monitoring and managing media relations. There are some really good ones on this list. Look through them and see if you can find some that align with your brand.
If you’re just starting out with PR, you may not need these tools yet. They are designed for brands that already have campaigns in place. However, over time, you’ll find that they are invaluable. It’s better to start using them in advance than it is to learn about them on the fly.
PR Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
Your competitors want you to believe that PR is expensive. They want you to think that it’s something only Fortune 500 companies and large organizations with massive budgets can get involved with. And while you may not be able to afford a full-time publicist, there are plenty of things you can do to push your brand forward and find opportunities.
PR doesn’t have to be expensive if you use the right tools and understand how to stretch your budget. Keep these five options in mind and start to develop a cost-effective PR strategy that allows you to achieve success in 2016 and beyond.
By Pablo Lopez
Connie Chandler, a public relations instructor in the School of Journalism, gives us her top-three reasons to build relationships with our instructors on campus.
Networking. Networking. Networking.
This word gets thrown around at us in college classrooms like our parents reminding us to eat our vegetables at the dinner table. But like our vegetables, why is it important?
More importantly, why should we network with instructors that we have to deal with for 10 weeks? Ten weeks should be more than enough time, right? Wrong.
Personally, I rather call it “building relationships.” It doesn’t sound as professional, but as students, I think we’re here to look at instructors as our friends and not as an associate that we’re competing with, dreading to ask them for help and cringing at the thought that they’ll embarrass you in front of the boss.
It’s true, we have a lot on our plate. It is almost impossible to meet with instructors when you’re trying to balance the workload of four or five classes while working a daily job that requires countless hours of physical labor.
Connie Chandler, a public relations instructor in the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) agrees. Chandler says, “Students are busy. And going to office hours, if you feel like you have a pretty good handle on what’s going on in the class, may seem like it’s too much to add to your schedule. But I think that the other part that students need to think about is that the instructors in the program that you’re in –in this case PR – really care about where you end up.”
These are Chandler’s three reasons to build a relationship with instructors.
1. Connection: We are here to learn from instructors.
It’s obvious that books cannot teach us everything. We can go to class twice a week, ace the course, and still be oblivious to what’s going on in the work place. Chandler says one of the best reasons to build a relationship with instructors is not only because they ‘have great deal of knowledge on the skills we are learning,’ but because they have ‘a fair amount of practical experience in the work place that you want to go into using those skills.’ They’re here to help; use them.
2. Good Practice: Instructors welcome “cold emails”
It’s an awkward, and sometimes intimidating introduction that you have no idea how to approach. As hard as it sounds, it’s not that bad. Instructors know that we have questions, and sure we might sound a little nervous, but don’t be hesitant and just do it.
Chandler explains that it’s as easy as sending an email. “Most instructors in, for example, the PR sequence, would be open to even just an email that says: ‘I’m a student in the public relations program and I know you are an instructor in the program with a special interest in leadership – for example like Dave Remund has – and I’d like to sit and talk with you. Can we do that sometime?’”
If you have a relationship with an instructor already, she recommends you simply ask to be introduced either virtually or in person with another instructor in the department that they think would be a good person for you to sit and talk with.
3. Access to Opportunities: Guidance into the right path
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely in the same boat as I am. We need a well-trained sailor to help us get to the destination we’re trying to reach. Which is exactly where the instructors come in to play. Chandler shares, “part of helping you get to that place is certainly the skills that you’re learning in the classrooms, but it’s also in getting to understand what you’re specifically interested in as an individual and helping in anyway that we can to guide you toward the path that you really want to take.” An exceptional staff surrounds us in the SOJC, and ultimately, they are here to help.
Time spent studying and sometimes even doing public relations at the School of Journalism and Communication isn’t time wasted, and your portfolio should show that.
At the end of the PR sequence there comes a time where you present a variety of work you’ve done to present your story. For some, this “final” assignment can be daunting, terrifying, and can make you feel anxious as the day for Portfolio Reviews swiftly approaches. To help ease your terror, PRSSA has a run down of what to expect and how to prepare.
Here’s a short and sweet run down of how the review will go the day of:
Note that you might want to bring something to take these notes down. A phone may not be the best device to do this.
Prepping for the review doesn’t mean just practicing your presentation or putting together your portfolio. There are a few other things you should keep in mind and probably execute before.
Do your homework. Think of Portfolio Reviews as a job interview ⎯ in this case an interview to graduate. The week before you have access to the review schedule. Take the opportunity to learn more about your panel. This helps put into context what each professional’s takeaways will be during your presentation.
Conduct a social media audit on yourself. If you haven’t Google searched yourself, now is the time to. You can bet that the folks who are chosen to be your reviewers will most certainly Google search you before your review session. Don’t forget to use the “grandma” rule. If you think your grandma wouldn’t appreciate a photo, post, or tweet get rid of it.
Double and triple check your e-portfolio. Attention to detail is a known attribute for any public relations professional. Make sure your first impression made online isn’t a bad one before the review.
Dress professionally and appropriately. Many students struggle when it comes to dressing professionally. It doesn’t mean wear four-inch heels you bought the day before or a suit jacket you had passed down because it’s the only “formal” thing you have in your closet. You want to look and feel the part. Reviewers know when you swung things together last minute. Follow these dress rules from Ann Taylor for women and GQ for men. Note for women: keep in mind the demographic of your reviewers. When wearing dresses, err on the side of caution.
Present your work as it pertains to your story and these three major points: the problem, solution, and impact. Each piece of your portfolio shouldn’t be there just to be there. It has to tell your story. Figure out how that piece of work relates to your overall theme or has shaped the way you perceive public relations. Remember that your materials have to tell your story without you in the room.
After your review, send them an email an hour to two hours later. Within 24-72 hours, send them a personalized thank you card. These folks are here because they care about how well you thrive in the industry. Take the time to tell them thank you for gaining valuable advice.
Abbie Mulligan, President, serves as the chapter’s resource and mentor, for our members and the executive board. When she’s not in Allen Hall, you can find her helping to strengthen the university’s relationship within the community. Follow her on Twitter at @abbsmulligan.
As a college student, you need your sleep – there’s simply no other way to put it. You stay up late finishing homework, wake up early to go to class, work during normal business hours, and sometimes decide to go out on the weekends which, yes, takes away from time you could be sleeping. Almost any student can relate to their morning going a little something like this…
It’s 8 a.m., your alarm is buzzing, and you went to bed at 3 a.m. the night before. You drag yourself to the kitchen for coffee and leftover cold pizza, you shower, throw on whatever clothes are nearest, and head to your first class of the day.
As a young adult still in school, you’re allowed to have a messed up sleep schedule and a morning like the one listed above. However, when you’re entering the professional world it’s time to change up the cold pizza for a hearty breakfast and the sweats for a suit. Waking up fifteen minutes before you need to leave isn’t going to cut it anymore. If you’re a senior looking forward to graduating, it’s time to start transitioning to your new professional morning routine:
Check the news, social media, and your emails.
Start your day with making yourself aware of what’s going on in the world today. You don’t want to be the only one who shows up to work and doesn’t know about the latest news, scandals, and tragedies. Especially make sure to check your email; it decreases the likelihood of surprises when you walk into your office.
Eat a well-balanced breakfast!
It’s cliché, but definitely makes a difference. Breakfast jump starts your metabolism and provides you with energy and nutrients that help you concentrate throughout the day.
Whether it’s a simple jog, a brisk walk, laps in the pool, yoga, or an intense CrossFit workout, you need to get moving. Working out in the morning boosts your endorphins, which results in a better mood for the day. It also relieves stress, keeps your metabolism elevated, and helps keep you focused.
Writing out your plans for the day can really increase productivity. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Making a to-do list, writing out your meetings and phone calls, and writing down deadlines will help you remember them. Seeing your day on paper or a computer calendar helps mentally prepare you for what’s to come.
Get your hardest task for the day out of the way.
Putting off the most difficult job can sometimes seem like the better path to take, but it’s not. Often you’ll end up procrastinating too much and it’ll hang over your head, daunting you. If you make it priority number one, tackle the job and get it out of the way, the rest of your tasks for the day will seem small and easy in comparison.
Brooke Adams is a junior transfer student, majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Business Administration. Brooke is a native Oregonian, avid coffee drinker, and music lover. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeIAdams.
Attention junior and senior students: it’s time to start networking! “Building a network” may sound like an overwhelmingly large task, but we promise it’s easy as 1, 2, 3. Follow the three steps below to start creating a custom network that will serve as your most useful (and powerful) professional tool.
Do some digging.
Building your network is an exciting process that requires you to connect with many different peers and professionals. But how do you know whom to get in contact with? Start by doing some digging. Reach out to professors, current and past employers and even your parents. Have them suggest friends or colleagues for you to get in touch with. They could even send a friendly email that puts your name on their radar, which really increases the likelihood you’ll get a response.
Once you’ve put together a solid contact list to work with, it’s time to start connecting with folks. Send out e-mails asking for informational interviews about their business, or even to just meet over coffee. Make sure to do your research first. Collect as much information as possible about what this person does for a living before chatting with them. This will show them that you’re serious about starting a professional relationship – they will respect you for it. And don’t forget to make a connection on LinkedIn too.
After making initial contact with a person, do not forget to follow up. Follow-up e-mails and phone calls will instill a lasting impression on your new acquaintances. Ask about what’s going on in their industry, ask for suggestions on other resources…be creative about how you foster this new relationship.
Remember that you, too, should contribute to professional relationships. Offer knowledge on current industry news, connect your peers with professionals in need of new employees, and generally build trust that will carry your relationship far into the future. Your network will be your new BFF. Treat these relationships with respect, stay in touch, and keep them in the loop with any major (professional) events in your life. The possibilities of where your network can take you are endless – so start building!
What are some ways you’ve already started building your professional network?
Anna Williams, external relations committee member, is a senior studying Family & Human Services. She’s obsessed with craft beer, avocados and everything about Seattle, and is pursuing a career in Food + Bev PR. Follow her on Twitter @annaleighwill.