Tag Archives: Networking

Putting the “relations” in public relations job searching

by Hope Peterson

I can think of few things more nerve-racking than entering the real world. It’s frightening to think of a place without the cushion of our parents’ security blanket, familiar faces and the excuse, “I’m only young once.”

However, entering that place should be a little less intimidating for PR students like us. The scary black hole of the real world should seem a little less unsettling.

Now, it’s a given that grades are important, but the key to obtaining the interview and holding the job is delivering greatness in person. You can’t get that from a transcript.

PR teaches communication, which places its students ahead of their competition. Through effective communication practices, PR students are familiar with the “how-to’s” of networking and interviewing.

First, the more people you know, the easier it is to do your job as a PR professional. Logically, networking before and after obtaining an interview is crucial.

This is not to say that “sucking up” is beneficial, because often that can lead to more name calling than job offers. But rather, it’s the art of knowing how to establish connections that will get you the phone call for an interview.

An article on the PRSSA website defines networking as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.”

There are two types of networking: “social and real world.”

PR professional Derek Devries said on his blog that is it important to create social media pages such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to establish your online identity the way you wish to be perceived. Devries said, “In your spare time you need to be blogging, tweeting, posting, liking, creating, and sharing content with the goal of creating a big footprint for people to find when they’re searching the web.”

As Devries put it, “just do something” to force yourself to be seen by others.

Next, real world networking includes most social interactions dealt with in every day life. Everyone you meet is important; every party you attend, after-class talk with your teacher, dinner with your friends’ parents or lunch with your sorority adviser could lead to something more.

Devries advised in his blog to “take these opportunities: they can be the difference between starting a new career OR moving back home with mom & dad when you graduate.”

But it takes a little more than a smile and a “how are you?” to establish a connection. You need to separate yourself from the crowd. Devries said that PR students are ahead because they never enter “blindly.” He said to always be prepared for social situations with a professional and online presence, business cards, notes and information for small talk.

After ensuring plenty of successful connections, the interview is next.

It should go without saying that PR students should be able to communicate and carry on conversations; putting the relations in public relations comes with the degree, right?

An article on PR Daily advises students who are interviewing to do their homework about the company, practice common manners, maintain appropriate work-related conversation and follow up without stalking.

Basically the tips can be summed up through one over-arching statement — learn how to connect with people to establish a relationship.

Graduating with a PR degree might just make that jump into that real work a little less scary. PR doesn’t just tell us to make an impression, but teaches us how. Effective communication is key.

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How to Earn an A+ in Business Etiquette

by Elizabeth Howell, guest blogger

Although public relations professionals are not required to pass an academic course on etiquette, knowing how to properly communicate outside of press releases and blog posts is a lesson that is essential. Engaging with clients and co-workers at promotional events and professional seminars requires public relations practitioners to understand the nuances of proper business etiquette.

Imagine spilling a drink on the CEO of your firm’s largest account or forgetting the name of an honored guest. Nothing could be more embarrassing for one who is expected to be skilled in the art of communication.

Judith Bowman teaches professionals how to dodge these party fouls in her book Don’t Take the Last Doughnut. Take a look at some of the highlights from my two favorite chapters to ensure your manners match up:

Networking
The first key to avoiding networking nightmares is to eat before the event. You are not there to drool over the mini quiche; you are in attendance to represent your company and make connections. Also, drink sparingly, if not at all. If you do have a glass, always place it in your left hand. This ensures that your right hand will be free for introductions and prevents it from becoming wet and clammy. Never assume someone wants your business card. Always ask, “May I offer you my card?” or “May I ask you for your card?”

Though requesting to exchange cards is usually proper etiquette, never ask very senior executives for their business cards. Protocol suggests that top-level leaders exchange business cards only among their peers. You are expected to know how to contact the individual and follow-up after the event.

Introductions
Formal business introductions call for the use of honorifics. Men are “Mr.” and women are “Ms.,” unless a woman says she prefers “Mrs.”

Remember to keep the introduction parallel. If you refer to one individual by first and last name, you must address the second individual by first and last name. Forgetting to do so slights the second individual. If you have forgotten the first name of one party, it is perfectly acceptable to introduce both individuals by last name only.

Always say the name of the most important person first, followed by “May I introduce to you” (professional phrasing), or “May I present to you” (the more formal phrasing); then say the name of the less senior individual. Also make sure that the most important person is standing to your right.

But who is the most important person? Bowman provides a few examples that are helpful to remember in this tricky situation:

When introducing a customer to the CEO, whose name is said first?
“In this case, the customer’s. Without the customer, there would be no business and no CEO.”

When introducing your spouse to the CEO at the holiday party, whose name do you say first?
“The CEO’s. Not because your spouse is less important, but because this is a company party and you want to show respect.”

Suppose the individuals are equal in rank?
“You may use age to determine the order of the introduction; the elder is introduced first. Or you may use gender; the woman’s name is said first.”

When introducing a high-ranking government official to your CEO, whose name is said first?
“The official. Any elected official outranks anyone in the private sector.”

How should you introduce one very senior person to a room full of people?
“Say the name of the senior person and then invite the individuals to say their own names and titles.”

So, if you’re nervous about introducing third parties, or can’t stop looking at the seafood buffet, it’s time to kick those cocktail party blues to the curb. Remember Judith Bowman’s tips, and you can gain the confidence to earn an A+ in business etiquette.

For international etiquette tips, read Katy Echols’ Platform article “Reaching Across Borders.”

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Networking: The Power of Face-to-Face Communication

By Libby Page

With the start of a new year, many PR students and professionals are seeking job opportunities. This is a daunting task for most people. From sorting through job applications to assembling the perfect portfolio, the experience is overwhelming.

When I began my personal job search, I felt overwhelmed and stressed as well. Recently I have reaped benefits from networking with business professionals. Many people overlook the importance of face-to-face communication. In a world that is on technology overload, it is important to get your face in the door in order to be memorable.

One of the most difficult tasks is getting the networking process started. I began by making a list of contacts that I had met or heard of through internships, family and friends. Another way to gain contacts is to attend a PRSSA conference or meeting. PR professionals attend these meetings and conferences because they want to help students. Ask a professional if they would be willing to meet with you to talk about opportunities in the field.

Once you gain your contacts, call these individuals and ask if you can set up an informational meeting. Although most people would prefer to send an e-mail, it shows a higher level of interest if you call. Also, most professionals receive hundreds of e-mails a day. If you call you become more memorable to the employer.

Informational meetings are great for learning about the PR field and the opportunities available. Even if the company you are meeting with isn’t searching for new employees, chances are they know someone who has openings. Here are some networking tips to help you along the way:

1. Meet with as many people as possible.
Don’t limit yourself. If you meet with multiple individuals, your chances of landing a job somewhere will increase. It is important not to put all your eggs in one basket. Be willing to expand your horizon and meet with people in different job settings. You will be surprised at the different perspectives and pieces of advice you gain from each experience.

2. Be genuine.
Networking is about creating authentic relationships so that you can maximize your career options. Be yourself so that you can find a job that truly fits your personality.

3. Never ask: “How can I get a job?”
You are accountable for your own success. Don’t make the employer feel obligated towards you. Instead, let the professional know you are seeking guidance.

4. Ask open-ended questions.
Don’t ask yes or no questions. You want the employer to do all the talking. You’re the one who requested the interview after all! So ask questions that will help you. Here are some of my favorites: How were you able to gain success in your career? What are some of the key characteristics you look for in employees? What advice do you have for someone like me who is just starting out?

5. Always follow up with a handwritten thank-you note.
Write a thank-you note to every person you meet during your appointment. Let them know you appreciated their time.

Although the job hunt can be stressful, it also can be interesting and exciting. Stay positive in your thoughts about the future. You have something special and distinctive to offer to the PR field.

What tactics have helped you find jobs/internships?

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Mission Possible: Obtaining an Internship

Our professors repeat one word to us public relations students over and over: experience, experience and more experience. But how do we get that experience?

Internships.

All PR students are encouraged to get internships. This gives us much-needed experience, opens up our job prospects and widens our professional network.

Of course gaining experience seems a lot simpler during a lecture. All students easily envision being able to write that dream internship on their resumes. However, obtaining that internship seems like a very daunting task.

If you are stuck in that internship rut, here are some tips that helped me in the past.

Google

Don’t be afraid to use Google or your favorite search engine. Have a city in mind? Just type in “PR agencies in Washington, D.C.” or “PR internships in Chicago,” for example. You’ll be surprised at how much relevant information may turn up.

Network

Ask your friends, ask your family, ask your neighbors, ask your professors . . . ask everybody! We live in a 6-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon world and you never know who other people know. You could be one step away from the guy who gets drinks with the CEO of Edelman or goes golfing with the CEO of Ketchum. Just remember, it never hurts to ask.

Direct Contact

Don’t limit yourself to filling out only the general internship applications for big name PR firms. A lot of small, cool, independent agencies are easily found on the Internet. Contact their human resources staff directly. Send a short, professional e-mail inquiring about internships. You never know who will reply!

Think Outside the Box

All PR majors don’t end up working for PR firms and agencies. It’s the same case for internships. All companies, big and small, look to become more visible and marketable. Search within your community. Any non-profits? Family-owned shops? Walk into local businesses and offer your services as a PR major. You may be surprised at the responses.

Work for Free

An unpaid internship is better than no internship. If you’re having trouble finding that paid internship, work for free. Experience can be worth so much more than money.

Regardless of how you decide to go about finding the perfect internship, remember above all to be confident, be yourself and be open to new things.

By Karissa Bursch

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