Networking ROI (PRofessional Development Week Extra)

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Mar 10, 2009 in Networking |

This post is a part of PRofessional Development Week. This special week, originally to last from March 2 to March 6, will be extended. Here is one PRofessional extra.

This is a guest post by Dave Baker, a student at St. John Fisher College. Dave is a PRSSA chapter president and has previously served as vice president of client communications at PRIMA Connections (SJFC’s student-run firm).

This week I received some great advice and I felt it needed to be passed along. I have been seeking some help on which career path to choose among the many that are available to the future PR practitioner. My new mentor handed me a brochure for an upcoming seminar.

Now, I am no stranger to seminars. I attend them whenever I can, but this time it was sort of different. I asked her who was speaking and she hadn’t bothered to look yet. I asked what the topic was and again she didn’t know. Not only did she not know but also she didn’t completely care. “It isn’t about the topic or the speaker, it’s about who you can meet and that’s why you need to go. And while you are there, you should see about joining.” By the way, the speaker received high praise, as did the topic once her point was made.

I never thought of it this way. Sure, the speaker matters, when you have the job, as does the content but I don’t have anything yet and that was her point. Early in your career, you join as much as you can and attend whatever possible just so you can meet people. It’s always been about who you know and what better way to find friends, mentors, internships and even the inside track on the job hunt than to get out there and talk to the people who make this happen.

This discussion made me think about the events I have attended through PRSSA and other organizations and I realized I have been going about my seminar selection all wrong. I looked at what I would like and see what I can get out of it. I realize that this isn’t a great strategy for networking at all. I should look at the event and determine who is going to be at there and decide if that is the group I want to get to know. The social media marketing measurement group is a world apart from the non-profit fundraising one but attending both would provide me with the least amount of crossover and the most contacts.

Like I was saying, I have gotten a lot out of what I have seen so far and as I am about to graduate I think this is the best time to pass along the tips I have taken away…

  1. Get there early. The best contacts are made before the food is served, as many people can’t invest the afternoon in socializing after the speaker is done.
  2. Bring a friend. Any experience you see as a good one is worth sharing. Plus, two people can work a room easier than one.
  3. Meet the people working the registration table. It is so nice to walk in to a room full of strangers and see that familiar face behind the registration desk. Not only can they expedite getting you in the room they can also be a great resource to connect you with a stranger.
  4. Get on the mailing list. You don’t want to wait until the last minute to rearrange your life if you are among the early invitees and you can pay online adding that “I’m a regular attendee” air about you.
  5. Meet the speaker. You just paid $25 for lunch that was probably chicken French and you sat through a presentation that every professional in the room saw as valuable. Maybe you should think about meeting this person that was identified as a valuable resource by the sponsoring organization.

The bottom line about attending any event is ROI. What is your return on the money you spent and time you invested in attending. What everyone fails to realize is in this case ROI is what we make it. No one is going to hand you the perfect job just for showing up or introduce you to a wonderful employer if they nothing good to say about you.

Put yourself out there at these events and reap the rewards of your efforts. It only takes one good contact to make an event a success but you have to take that first step.

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[…] Rachel M. Esterline, for anyone who has never heard me mention her before, is amazing. She is a real inspiration to other students everywhere regardless of their age. Rachel runs one of the better blogs I read and she has given me a couple of opportunities to contribute to her site. My latest attempt was a spot about Networking’s ROI and it can be found here. […]


 

[…] thinking, “Yeah, I already know this. I read all about networking all the time. I’ve even read about it on Girl Meets Business here, here, and here.” And, if […]


 

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