Networking in the New Year


You might love it, or you might hate it. Regardless of how you feel about it, networking is a necessary part of growing in your industry, and particularly, in public relations. As PR professionals, we’re constantly incorporating networking principles into our everyday work, from building relationships with reporters and pitching our clients as experts in their respective fields, to attending industry events where we find ourselves establishing new connections.

The new year offers each of us a unique opportunity to reflect on personal and professional goals – why not make networking one of them? Read on below for some ideas on how you can build your network as a PR professional!

Join a professional association.

Unsure of where to start networking? Research professional organizations and associations related to your field and sign up to learn more. If you’re lucky, like we are here at Maven, your company might even sponsor your membership! Depending on your client roster, it could make sense, too, to explore professional associations within their industries.

Here, we have the Philadelphia Public Relations Association, or PPRA. PPRA is an association for PR professionals located in the Greater Philadelphia region. As a member, you’re invited to unique networking events around the city, media tours of local broadcast and print publications, meet and greets with local media and much more. Association-sponsored events like these can offer you the opportunity to widen your professional network, meet similar professionals in your city and engage with media you might not otherwise have the chance to connect with (no matter how many follow-up emails you send after that pitch).

If joining an association isn’t part of your 2024 budget – don’t sweat it! A quick Google search will show you free networking events in your area where you can work on growing your personal and professional network.

Update your elevator pitch.

Now that you’ve joined a professional association, or are signed up for a local networking event, it’s time to review your elevator pitch. Networking requires you to have a succinct, yet compelling, pitch summarizing who you are, what you do and what you, or your agency, offer. It should be short and sweet, but enticing enough to capture your listener’s attention, whether you’re introducing yourself to a fellow PR professional or pitching your client to a local reporter.

For the best results: practice and prepare! If you know you’ll have the chance to connect with reporters at an upcoming event, or even on a quick phone call, practice ahead of time so that you feel comfortable pitching when the time comes. Keep your personal pitch short and focus on a few key topics that are top of mind for your clients and are easy for you to summarize.

Attend industry events.

Chance encounters at events can lead to lifelong connections. Whether it be an event for PR professionals, a community engagement meeting, or an event specific to one of your hobbies, there’s always an opportunity to make new connections and further develop your network. When my focus is networking at an event, it can be helpful to set small, attainable goals prior to attending. For example, I might set a goal of introducing myself to three new people before the event is over. This way, I can hold myself accountable and strategically work toward making new connections. Oh, and always remember to bring a few business cards!

To help make a connection last, send a quick follow-up note to your new connections after the event. A brief “nice meeting you today!” with a few sentences about your conversation can go a long way.

All in all, networking is a valuable and necessary tool for PR pros looking to deepen connections with other industry professionals, establish relationships with reporters and, in the end, advance their careers. How will you prioritize networking in the new year?

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