7 Tips for Networking
The Power of Networking:
Networking is forming a connection in order to build a relationship. Networking can provide a boost in any professional field and even your personal life. Successful networking can occur almost anywhere: online on LinkedIn, over text or email, or in person at an event, a party, even your child’s little league game. I met the legendary Jeannie Entin, President-Elect of Public Relations Society of America Silicon Valley (PRSA SV) at a climate action ice cream social event, and I had no idea how it would catalyze my PR efforts. At the time, I wasn’t even considering PR as a career. This connection with Jeannie Entin led me to volunteer as Citizen Journalist at the (also) legendary Media Predicts event, a conference for PR professionals. From there, I connected with the acclaimed Michelle McIntyre on LinkedIn. In a remarkable move, Michelle McIntyre invited me to be a writer for the PRSA SV Marketing Team. Jeannie Entin and Michelle McIntyre are the reasons I’m writing this article today.
7 Networking Tips:
1. Use influential tricks (harmless, I promise).
This is a handy trick I’ve experienced. When it was used on me, I could almost literally feel its effective influence on my brain. The strategy is this: Casually mention, “I’m from XYZ Company. You may have heard of us.” Mentioning “You may have heard of us” adds credibility to your company, leading your audience to believe your company is unforgettable. It proclaims your company is so famous that they are expected to know it. This expression adds credibility effectively because it works regardless of whether they have heard of your company. If they have heard of your company, they will likely put your company above others in terms of prestige. If they have not heard of it, they feel out of the loop and become more predisposed to listen to your pitch about your company in the hope of staying in the loop.
2. On LinkedIn, communicate with everybody you have any connection with.
You never know who will offer you a job—or in my case, a position on the PRSA SV Marketing Team. In the case of Michelle McIntyre, I saw that I had a connection because of her previous year’s article on an event that I was writing about. Therefore, I requested to connect, sending this note: “Hi Michelle. Nice to meet you! I'm writing a blog post for PRSA's Media Predicts event like you did last year, and I'm impressed by your endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn. I would love to connect.” Because we had something in common and I wrote a kind, professional note, she accepted my request. I could have chosen to bypass the opportunity to connect with her, because of my busy schedule, but I had been trained to connect with people on LinkedIn whenever possible. It paid off!
3. On LinkedIn, wish your connections a Happy New Year.
This is a simple way to reconnect with connections you haven’t talked to in a while, and you never know what conversation it might prompt. When I wished Michelle McIntyre a Happy New Year, she offered me a “mentor meeting” and her phone number. We texted, and she invited me to the PRSA SV Marketing Team. Who knows if this would have happened if I hadn’t sent her a “Happy New Year” message.
4. Aim to socialize.
At a networking event, the goal is to socialize for fun, not only to get people’s contact information. If you are looking to have fun, people will naturally want to connect with you. Along with entering with the right mindset, it is helpful to listen with a friendly mind. Focusing on what you like about them and what you like about what they are saying will help you listen and remain likable throughout the conversation.
5. Prepare your one-liner.
Everyone needs a one-liner. At climate events, mine is “I led a climate change organization for four years and expanded it from 15 to 50 members so we could successfully advocate for 30 bills at the state level.” Your one-liner, as implied by the name, should be one sentence that answers the question “Why am I noteworthy?” Take your resume and extract the highlights— but only those that are easily digestible by your audience.
6. Map out your exit strategy.
To leave an interaction, say, “Well, it’s been great talking with you; I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn.” Some people think you need to say something about what was said in the conversation, such as, “Thanks for telling me about your company.” It’s true you get bonus points for doing so, but if you’re nervous, this could add unnecessary pressure. So, keep it simple. You don’t need to give a reason why you want to connect, especially if they want to connect as well.
7. Consider this bonus tip from PR superstar Michelle McIntyre.
Michelle McIntyre, whom I mentioned previously, offers a networking tip: “Think small—sometimes the most productive networking happens at a smaller gathering and when you least expect it, for example, of only three to five people. You have more time to get to know everyone. I favor small meal meetups over events with 100 people. My favorite networking event was Dinner for Six in Mission District during a TechCrunch show.”
Peri Plantenberg, the newest member of PRSA Silicon Valley's Marketing Team, is a second-year UC Berkeley student and a former sales, marketing, and business development intern at Unlocking Growth. Before that, Peri co-led the nonprofit Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action.