Networking your way into PR

We recently joined the team at Agency Iceberg for their first Mentor Speed Dating event.

‘Dating’ our way through a room full of upcoming communications graduates and aspiring professionals, we were reminded of the importance of networking skills in an industry that thrives on building and managing relationships.

With exams almost done for the year and a fresh group of graduates about to set off into the world of professional communications, we’ve compiled our team’s top tips for networking in the communications industry below.

Whether it’s finding your first role or just expanding your network, we’re sure these will come in handy.

And if you are a graduate that wants to connect, please get in touch – we’re always up for coffee and a chat!

Tip 1 – Preparation is key

  • Before you reach out, take the time to sharpen your elevator pitch and make sure your resume and references are up to date. (Please remember to have someone else proofread your resume.)
  • Research the company/individuals you want to meet with and have a clear rationale for wanting to meet them.
  • If you’re on the lookout for your first/next role, take the time to understand your prospective employer, their business, and how you can contribute to it.
  • Time is precious, so have a clear set of questions or topics you’d like to discuss – this will help you get key information from your meetings.

Tip 2 – Leverage existing connections

  • It only takes one connection for you to build your network – whether it’s a teacher, friend in industry, or someone you met at an event such as the Agency Iceberg Mentor Speed Dating event (wink).
  • Take the time to research their LinkedIn connections and identify professionals in industry you’d like to connect with – asking for an introduction will go a long way to helping you create a connection and schedule a meeting or call.

Tip 3 – Put yourself out there

  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to connections or those you want to add to your network.
  • We work in an industry that favours the proactive. If you don’t reach out and make that connection, chances are somebody else will.
  • Similarly, don’t shy away from industry events – especially those where you don’t know anyone.
  • Yes, they’re momentarily uncomfortable – but they’re the perfect opportunity to meet industry professionals, practice your pitch and open doors you might never have imagined.

Tip 4 – Be open and direct

  • There’s no need to beat around the bush – if you’re looking for your next role and are keen to learn about a company, let people know.
  • Similarly, if you’re just looking to gather information about the industry and widen your network, say so.
  • This helps the person you’re connecting with understand what you’re looking for and how they can help.

Tip 5 – Make it your shout

  • Giving up an hour of your time and shouting a new connection coffee is one of the best investments you can make in starting a new professional relationship.
  • Where possible, offer to meet at a time and location suitable for the person you’re connecting with – it shows you value and appreciate their time and will make for a productive catch-up.

Tip 6 – Do an internship (or two)

  • If possible, do an internship in an agency – this will be an opportunity to build contacts in the industry, gain hands-on experience and be introduced to a variety of clients and tasks.
  • In turn, it will help you identify the disciplines and industries you’re most interested in as you look to chart your career course.

Tip 7 – Check your social media footprint

  • The first thing a new contact will likely do is Google you and check your social media activity.
  • Make sure your LinkedIn is up to date and that your social media profiles don’t contain any offensive content or activity.

Tip 8 – Read more

  • Whether it’s news, industry journals, magazines or books – read as much as you can.
  • Deepen your knowledge of client sectors you’re most interested in and be aware of how the big issues in those industries impact businesses and communities.
  • This will help you know what’s happening, understand current trends and become a better writer.

By the Fenton team