Networking is a buzzword in career circles, yet few people truly know how to effectively build a strong network of professional connections.
By using a few simple strategies, you can identify and secure a dream job and avoid job search boards and career sites. These networking techniques also work well with identifying new business prospects, employees, and professional associates.
1. Determine where you want to work and identify the person for whom you’d love to work.
Check the company’s blog, read its client releases, follow it on Twitter, Google the company, research it on LinkedIn. I’m not telling you to be a stalker, just do your research.
Armed with this information you can write a short cover email (or Twitter comment) about something the company said, wrote or did. Indicate that you would love to learn more about its work. Once you start a dialogue, write a note about an idea you have for a client. Down the road, email your resume and a well-written cover note explaining how you would be an asset to the organization.
2. Subscribe to the free email newsletters in your industry and related areas.
For PR, the advertising, social media, PR and marketing trades are a great resources. When you see a new client win or other announcement from an agency or corporation, write a note of congratulations.
The company or PR firm will probably staff up to service this new business. As a follow up, send your compelling cover note and resume showcasing how you will be the perfect team member to help deliver results for this client.
3. Read the business pages of your local newspaper.
Every week, newspapers include executive appointment announcements (as do industry trades). I’m not looking for a job, yet I frequently drop a note of congratulations to new corporate communication and public relations executives I read about in the paper. Many have become guest speakers in my classes and several have hired my students for internships and jobs. Identify quotes from a company spokesperson and get to know them on LinkedIn or Twitter.
4. To connect with someone via LinkedIn, always include a personal message.
Here are two examples: “I read about your new client” or “I loved your quote in The New York Times
.“ Include a short sentence about who you are: “I’m a PR student with my own travel public relations blog,” or “I’m a junior-level marketing professional interested in crisis communication.”
[READ: 12 LinkedIn secrets to supercharge your social networking]
5. Exercise patience.
Take the time to develop a rapport with your new contacts. Don’t just ask for a job, ask them for their insights, tips, and advice. Help them learn who you are. Show you are insightful and smart, and good at tracking and spotting trends. Consider all of your contacts as possible mentors or business partners down the road.
With some creativity and drive, you can make valuable connections. And don’t forget to reciprocate—always be willing to help when someone reaches out to you.
Lorra M. Brown is an assistant professor of public relations/professional communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. She serves as the internship coordinator and advisor to the Student Public Relations Association. Prior to her faculty position, she held senior-level positions at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Weber Shandwick Worldwide.