Being the informed PR student I am, I and many of my coworkers, have heard numerous times NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Since I have heard this from my professors and professionals at professional development sessions I can’t help but think what is the proper way to network? If you don’t interact enough you could loose that connection but if you ask that connection for favors all the time the connection will start to feel mistreated.
Having been to PRSSA National Conference this year, I’ve learned to gain strong meaningful connections. This does not mean you have to have a huge amount of connections, which would only result in loose relationships. It’s better to have a small network, with deep relationships that will get you where you want to be.
To get a better understanding of what this looks like, I will give you three steps to show your network some love along the way during an Informational Interview.
- Have a thoughtful list of questions ready.
Having a list of questions prepared shows you value your connection’s time. Examples would be “How did you get to where you are now?” or “What are the work values of you workplace?” or lastly, “What do you recommend I do to get to where I want to be?”. I suggested showing off a little something you know about the company FIRST and then asking this last question.
2. Buy their coffee or food.
It’s easy for someone to feel used when it comes to networking because people usually only want to get what they are after from someone. If you pay for their coffee or food this shows that you appreciate their time and is an easy way to show how thankful you are.
3. Ask if there is anything you can do for them.
Doing this also shows that you appreciate the professional’s time. This lets your professional know that this meeting was not just for your benefit. Lastly, asking this question lets people know you are a team player.
Remember your network is not there just to help you, you are here to help your network. Which sometimes means creating questions or buying their food. With the busy of a PR professional, its easy to get caught up and think what can other people do for me, instead you need to think what can I do for my network and show them some love. They deserve love just as much as you do.