Tips on Networking as a New PR Practitioner

Kaitlyn Kelley, Project Coordinator

Networking can seem daunting, especially for new public relations practitioners who have just entered the workforce. It’s often very different from college networking events because you generally know fewer people and there is a larger gap between age and experience.
It can feel nerve-racking to show up alone or with expectations of making “connections” in an industry you have just begun to understand. As someone who decided to step out of my comfort zone this year and take the plunge into networking, here are some things I’ve learned from my experience thus far.

Use Online Platforms

This might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how often I have heard from friends in my industry that they “just don’t know where to network.” A wealth of online resources are available to help you get involved with your local PR community. The following are some examples: 

PRSA: PRSA is one of the most influential public relations and communication professional organizations. Its website lists networking events and webinars to help you stay on top of trends, and offers membership opportunities to unite practitioners nationwide. 

Center for Communication: This resource is tailor-made for undergrads, graduate students, and recent college graduates looking to connect. Although it is based in New York, its online webinars are open to all, and they have communications professionals from around the country speak on monthly Zoom calls and breakout rooms. 

FPRA: The Florida Public Relations Association is probably the most localized way to start networking in your community. After you find and join your local city chapter, check the event’s page to start attending events in your area.

Join the Conversation

Subscribing to industry newsletters or keeping up with blogs is another great resource for becoming a part of the conversations happening in the industry. Here are some of the ones I follow: 

PR Girl Manifesto Blog: An online hub where career opportunities, mentorship, events (both online and in-person), and insightful articles live alongside my favorite feature—their blog. Their interviews are particularly interesting, featuring influential PR professionals like Kevin Wong, VP of the Trevor Project, and Imani Goldmann, PR Director of Savage X Fenty.

Platform Magazine Blog: This is an impressive online student-run publication dedicated solely to the communications industry. Explore their blog, which keeps a finger on the pulse of trending industry topics. It's a great resource for staying current with the perspectives of young PR professionals.

Michael Smart’s PR Newsletter and Free Resources: As you progress in your career, you will probably hear the name Michael Smart a lot. He is a very successful public relations professional who now serves as a coach for communications teams. His newsletter is perfect for starting out in PR because it covers the basics of best practices for pitching, writing, and other fundamentals.

Show Up

Showing up is half the battle. Once you have RSVP’d to an event, try to attend it. It can be easy to skip an activity that isn’t required of you, but it will benefit your communication skills in the long term. 

It also helps to bring a friendly face, even if they aren’t in PR. As you appear at more events, people will notice you, making it easier to take up space.

Build Genuine Relationships

Think of building connections like building any relationship in your life. First, find common ground, then be an active listener and follow up with them on how they are doing.

People often overthink networking; it doesn’t need to be transactional in nature, just like talking to your friends isn’t always a give-and-take. Communicating with new people is educational, and it’s always important to hear differing perspectives on industry obstacles you might face at work.

Don’t Discount Yourself

Just because you are new to the workforce does not mean you have nothing to offer. Whether you are fresh out of college or have just made a career change to PR, people can always learn things from you. 

Public relations is ever-changing. New developments will always require discourse to establish best practices. Your age, background, professional journey and general perspective on life will always add value to a conversation.  

Two of my colleagues, SMPR Creative Director Vanessa Guirey and Marketing + Advertising Director Lauren Toner, recently attended a professional event for Access Tallahassee's Young Professionals Summit. 

They engaged in sessions with fellow young people in the workforce about important topics such as AI, relationship building, career planning and more. This is a perfect example of how networking events can give you a sense of community and support in your career. 

With these tips, embrace the challenge of networking this year and go beyond your comfort zone.

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