This article first appeared in O’Dwyer’s.
As Richard Branson once said: “Succeeding in business is all about making connections.”
This is true in every line of work, but nowhere is it truer than in the world of public relations, where both the success of your business and that of your clients depends on your ability to make connections with busy media in a crowded, noisy space when hundreds of other PR professionals are also beating down their doors. Or, more precisely, their email inboxes.
Of course, there are several ways to do this. One way is steady, measured persistence. This may yield results, but it is a long road. Another way – a way that has proven especially fruitful for me personally – is through personal connections. No path to communication is as efficient as a mutual friend. So then the question becomes how to acquire such friends. For this, I recommend networking events.
Networking events are invaluable. They are where you might meet your next client, future colleague or key reporter covering a client’s vertical and acquire a lifelong friend in the process.
Here are four reasons why you should pencil some networking events into your social calendar, stat:
Connections: Networking provides you with opportunities to talk to influential people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to talk to or find easily. Once those initial connections are established, you also have a foot in the door to their social networks.
Opportunities: New opportunities are the main reason people attend networking events and join networking groups. You can’t always be sure what form these opportunities will take; all you can be sure of is that they require being in the right place at the right time. So be there.
Reputation: Make sure you regularly attend business and social events that will help to get your face known. Surrounding yourself with positive, productive, professional people contributes to your own credibility as an expert/professional.
Confidence: By regularly networking and pushing yourself to talk to people you don’t know, your confidence will increase, which will serve you well in conversations with potential new clients, business partners and members of the press.