Read about the benefits of networking and the importance of building relationships, as told by the IC PRSSA Blog Team.
By: Rachel Mooney
It is that time of year when we hear our peers whispering about applications, future career endeavors, internships and jobs. The anxiety of our unknown summer or post-graduation plans hits full force at the start of the spring semester.
Do not let these conversations alarm you, as there is no reason to feel anxious toward your future plans. It is only February and although summer is right around the corner, this is by no means a time to fret. It is the time rather to be proactive and get your name out in the professional world one application, one conversation, and one networking event at a time.
What does it take to be effective in networking? It is all about building relationships. As future public relations professionals this should be music to our ears. Relationship building is the foundation of PR and should be used for professional development as well.
The beginning of the spring semester is the perfect chance to connect or reconnect with faculty and staff who love to hear what your interests are and potentially assist your career planning. Do you already have a great relationship with a faculty member? Remember to reach out to ask if he or she would be open to being your reference or even writing a letter of recommendation. The connections you make now matter. Professors have so many important contacts, especially communications professors who most likely were practitioners or are even still in practice.
Although I mentioned it is not time to panic, it still however is not the time to sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you.
In addition to traditional networking, utilize the job boards in which you have access. This does not just include Indeed, Internships.com, and of course PRSSA. It also includes the job boards associated with your school. At Ithaca College, we have the job and internship posting website called Handshake. Most schools have wonderful career services that I highly recommend taking advantage of while you can.
Additionally, attend workshops and conferences when given the chance. This semester I am attending two conferences, including the PRSSA Regional Conference in Boston, MA and the PRSA Northeast District Conference in Corning, NY. These are both events I learned of through my connections in PRSSA, and the relationships I developed with my professors here at Ithaca College. I will not only learn more about the PR industry at these conferences, but also meet professionals from all over the Northeast who have the experience and advice my education can only benefit from.
Networking is easier than you may think. Converse with your peers about their past experiences and future plans. Skim through LinkedIn to see if any alumni work at, or have previously worked at a company you are interested in. Most importantly, just take the proactive steps and reach out to people.
The benefits to networking will come along soon after; however, it does take effort and sincere interest in order for the benefits to happen. Begin by building those relationships, and the dreaded term “networking” will become one of your favorite things about this profession. At least it has for me!