Networking is a topic that never fades, especially for PR industry. As a PR professional-to-be, you want to know how to behave well and make connections in job interviews, career fairs, networking events and any other networking opportunities. Here are the top 10 do’s and don’ts you should think about.
- Research. Know the event’s topic, the attendees, the dress code, the location, and even the food situation. Get prepared for everything and plan your timing.
- Nametag. Wearing a nametag helps people remember your name, but be sure to place your nametag on the right side of your body.
- Firm Handshake. A firm handshake indicates your confidence. A good rule for a proper handshake is to make hands web-to-web. Remember, one to three handshakes is enough.
- Unique Introduction. See yourself as a brand. Prepare a “30 second commercial” to quick introduce yourself and express your goals. Tailor it to the event you’ll attend.
- Conversations. Spend more time listening. Give feedback that corresponds to the other person’s interests.
- Direct Eye Contact. Show your interest and sincerity by keeping an eye contact in the “eye-nose” triangle. Nobody enjoys being stared at.
- Natural Body Language. Relax and smile. What’s more, you’d better make your arms open, which means you’re open to the conversation and not in guard. A drink in your left hand help you manage it properly.
- Graceful Exit. When the conversation starts to ebb, you should realize it’s time to end it. Exit the conversation naturally and gracefully by “It’s been a great pleasure talking to you. May I have your business card?” People will appreciate your appropriate wrap-up.
- Exchange Business Card. To show respect, please accept people’s business cards with two hands. Look at it for a few seconds and offer a compliment about the design. And always be ready to present your business card, so you’d better prepare a handful with you.
- Follow Up. The real networking starts after the networking event. Now that you have the person’s business card, you can send a hand-written thank-you note to him or her and then an email to continue your conversations. Think about what you can do to maintain your relationships with people from a PR angel.
Knowing the do’s helps to avoid the don’ts. You will find it self-evident not to do the following DON’TS:
- Attend a networking event without knowing your goal.
- Talk more about yourself than listening and asking questions.
- Belittle the person’s company or work unconsciously.
- Look down at the floor instead of into the person’s eyes.
- Hold your arms tight in front of you.
- Jump into a conversation awkwardly.
- Keep talking without noticing the other person’s feeling.
- Ask for favors more than you can give back or without any appreciation.
- Fail to follow your promise to people.
- Contact them only when you need their help.
For a media relations class assignment, I interviewed Leslie Friday, BU Today and Bostonia magazine staff writer. Before she came to BU Today, she served as a journalist for several newspapers such as the Brookline TAB and the Tico Times, in Costa Rica. The interview contributed to several media relations tips that may concern our PR pros-to-be. Here are some of the things that she had to say during our interview.
What makes a good story?
- Unusual and compelling topics
- Relation to your audience
- Applicable to broader contexts
Which part of working with PR practitioners makes you feel good?
- When PR people pitch great story ideas
- “We sometimes enjoyed working with each other.”
Which part of working with PR practitioners annoys and frustrates you?
- “When a crime/bad news happened, a PR person didn’t return my call/email, or simply provided useless response.”
- PR people sometimes are uncooperative and even antagonistic.
Anything that a PR professional can do to make your life easier?
- “Answer my questions thoroughly and as quickly as possible, in the first time.”
- Be honest.
- “When anything comes up, please let me know. I can write a story about it and help people know. Let’s help each other out.”
- “Follow what you promised.”
What makes a good pitch?
- Subject line should “Have a story idea and don’t get too wordy.”
- Be concise and show the most interesting part of the story in the beginning.
- Interesting/new/unique, which “hooks me, makes me want to know more.”
- Timeliness is important, yet again.
- Pitch to the right person: research about the journalist, know his/her preferences.
- “When pitching to mainstream media like the Boston Globe, it’s usually more difficult to get attention, so you must have a strong story and make it unique and more polished.”
- “Keep pitching. You need persistence.”
Any advice for writing a valuable news release?
- Include the most important information in the first paragraph— the five W’s and one H. Remember to tell the journalist why it is important.
- Be concise.
- “Read several times before you send it. Don’t repeat.”
- Include contact info and different ways to get in touch.
- Include a boilerplate at the bottom — with information about the company.
What qualities should a PR pro have?
- PR is people relations. You should know how to work with people.
- Have good event planning skills.
- Communication skills: have everything well written in advance and strong verbal skills.