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ExPRessions :: Guest Post

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Guest Post by Hannah DeMilta

There are several upcoming conferences for students and professionals this spring season. At Otterbein College we are excited to be hosting PaRtners Conference on April 24th. This year’s theme is the PR Olympics and registration is open to all students online now. I’ve attended several similar conferences as an undergraduate and wanted to share some of my experiences and ideas of how to get the most from these events. (Sign up here for the PaRtners Conference)

Step One: Check registration options. Making the decision to register early is always smart so you can save on costs. Also, plan ahead and take advantage of group rates if they are offered. If you are really looking to cut costs see if they offer an option to volunteer for free or reduced registration. If they don’t have a student registration rate listed, don’t be afraid to ask. It might pay off in the end. PaRtners Conference early registration has passed but you do save $10 by registering before, avoid paying at the door.

Step Two: Do you your homework. Are the speakers and session topics listed online? Do you know the city or region where the event is being hosted? Are there are other networking opportunities or tweet ups being planned in conjunction with the conference? Check out both the official website for some facts, but also listen to others attendees. You can read the session descriptions and speaker bios for PaRtners Conference online here. We also encourage attendees to hang out with us at the un-official Old Bag mixer after the conference.

Step Three: Have a game plan. Know what sessions you want to attend and who you want to meet. This is especially important at larger conferences but it doesn’t hurt for the small ones as well. I can almost guarantee this will change once you arrive but it doesn’t hurt. I used this mentality this past month when attending SXSW interactive in Austin. I had a plan but was flexible and open to change.

Step Four: Set up your own opportunities. If you are traveling somewhere out of your normal network take the opportunity to network outside of just the planned conference activities. Set up meetings or tours. If you are with a PRSSA group, perhaps take an agency tour or meet with local alum in that area. There are some great places to visit in Columbus, if you want more information or need recommendations please let us know.

Step Five: Network online. Thanks to social media there are many opportunities to network with presenters and other attendees before you even arrive at the conference. For PaRtners Conference we created a Twitter list of all organizers, speakers and registered attendees to help you find people. Begin to build relationships and gain name recognition beforehand. It will be way more beneficial when you’re trying to network in person at the event.

I hope that you have fun at any conference you may attend this spring and of course encourage you to consider visiting us in Columbus for PaRtenrs Conference. Follow the conversation on Twitter: #ocpartners

Sign up here: http://centralohiopartners.eventbrite.com/

Hannah DeMilta is the site manager at SportsNetworker.com and a senior public relations major at Otterbein College. She is serving as the Director of Programs for PaRtners Conference. Please feel free to email Hannah.DeMilta [at] otterbein.edu or connect via Twitter @HannahDeMilta


February 10, 2010 10:00 am | 4 Comments

My friend Nikki Stephan (@estrellabella10) sent me some great information about an upcoming conference several weeks ago. I promised to write a blog post because I was so excited about the conference (I plan to attend). She connected me with David Murray (@DaveMurr), gave me many great points about why you should attend. Read on…

FMW_logoThe 5 W’s:
WhoFutureMidwest – which is the fusion of two successful conferences held in Michigan in 2009 – the Module Midwest Digital Conference and TechNow
What: Will highlight how technology and social media have dramatically changed the way we do business
When: April 16 – 17, 2010
WhereRoyal Oak, Mich.,  at the Royal Oak Music Theatre
Why:  There are awesome presenters, including Blagica Bottigliero from Edelman Digital,  Ken Burbar from Ernst & Young, Beth Harte from MarketingProfs, Scott Monty from Ford and many more very cool social media types.

Why You Should Go (according to David Murray)

I can’t go into last year’s Module Midwest Digital Conference without mentioning Adrian Pittman. If it wasn’t for a chance meeting, I wouldn’t have even heard of Module, let alone be part of this year’s FutureMidwest conference.
At the time I had just moved back to Michigan. A dumb move in the eyes of many, but for me I saw opportunity. Michigan was, and some may argue still is, in a bad place. I had just begun my career in this new thing people were talking about, Social Media. This would have been around early 2009.
Like most of the connections I had made, Adrian initially met through Twitter.  After talking with Adrian for a few minutes, I immediately realized that this guy was on to something. He had big ideas, and unlike most people, he carried through to see them become reality. So when he started speaking about his conference called Module, I was immediately intrigued. I mean who wouldn’t. He was touting names like Chris Brogan, Amber Naslund, and Shannon Paul. Those are names attached to events that you want to be a part of.

I can’t go into last year’s Module Midwest Digital Conference without mentioning Adrian Pittman. If it wasn’t for a chance meeting, I wouldn’t have even heard of Module, let alone be part of this year’s FutureMidwest conference.

Like most of the connections I had made, Adrian initially met through Twitter.  After talking with Adrian for a few minutes, I immediately realized that this guy was on to something. He had big ideas, and unlike most people, he carried through to see them become reality. So when he started speaking about his conference called Module, I was immediately intrigued. I mean who wouldn’t. He was touting names like Chris Brogan, Amber Naslund, and Shannon Paul. Those are names attached to events that you want to be a part of.

There was energy after Module. Things began to happen. People, who didn’t know each other began to build bridges, connect, share, and learn from each other. Despite the recession people moved forward with ambition driven by the desire to see a different outcome. And as we lead up to FutureMidwest, we are now seeing the seeds of our discussions from last year’s Module take shape and definition. This year, FutureMidwest is partnering up with another great conference, TechNow, founded by Jordan Wolfe.

So, why people should attend? Well, going by the website, you should attend FutureMidwest for the following reasons:

  • To help understand how to market your business in the digital space.
  • To know which tools to use that will connect you with customers and stakeholders to grow your business.
  • You have questions about monitoring, analyzing and measuring online efforts to prove the social web is an investment worth making.
  • You’ve heard that you need to use online tools to create dialogue and deepen relationships with customers, and provide content that makes customers want your products/services.

That’s pretty straight forward.

But if you really want my opinion, I would say attend FutureMidwest, because you won’t just be attending a conference. You’ll be taking part of the change that is happening across Michigan.  And if we’ve done our job right you will walk away with the knowledge to be part of the change. That to me is the true value of FutureMidwest.

About David

Bio_AvatarDavid currently serves as Director of Social Web Communications for The Bivings Group, an Internet communications firm in Washington DC. He carries extensive experience in online community management, social media, and product development. Fully immersed in social media practices and methodologies, David enjoys pushing the norm when creating communities and engaging user experiences. Living by the mantra, “leave no regrets”, David chose to return to Michigan where he founded the Social Media Club chapter of Detroit, and is one of the co-chairs for FutureMidwest, the region’s largest technology and knowledge conference taking place in Royal Oak, Michigan. Read his blog and connect with him on twitter and LinkedIn.

Keys to Being Gutsy in Business

February 3, 2010 9:00 pm | No Comments

Guest post by Jenny Russell

I once had a boss, Jack, who was a risk-taker, gutsy and the ultimate salesperson.  He got a lot of speeding tickets and scared a lot of strangers, but these characteristics translated well into running his business.

The small advertising agency that Jack ran was in a small town and wasn’t extraordinary.  One day, Jack decided that he was going to contact a very successful Fortune 500 company.  He called around until he found someone within the organization who would take his call and give him a chance.

Jack’s own small town business went from non-existent to competing with advertising agencies in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

The lesson: It pays to be gutsy.  However, what makes the difference between a bold business which fails versus a fearless business which succeeds?

Here are some keys:

  1. Be good at what you do –  You can be fearless in selling your product or service, but if you do not have the quality to back it up, the project will quickly backfire on you.  Also, surround yourself with smart, skilled co-workers that make you look good.
  2. Obtain as many skills and as much knowledge as possible –  This goes along the lines of the debate of being liberally educated and having multiple jobs.  Develop a broad knowledge base of many different topics and learn from every experience that you can find.  For instance, one of the hardest jobs that I have ever had was working as a waitress.  If you can provide stellar customer service to restaurant patrons, you can provide great customer service to anyone.
  3. Take care of your clients – Give top-notch customer service and do whatever it takes to keep your current clients happy.  As the old saying goes, if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will.  It also takes a lot more time and money to go out and pursue new customers than it does to keep the clients that you currently have.
  4. Develop relationships – Talk to strangers.  Remember names and faces.  Take a genuine interest in people that you meet through college, different jobs, and conferences.  Find common interests, learn their spouse’s name, and remember how many kids they have.  Keep their business card or link to their on-line contact information through LinkedIn.  You never know when a business opportunity will arise where you might need them or they might need you.  Treat everyone with the genuine value and respect that they deserve.
  5. Be a problem solver– Ask your clients and potential clients what their challenges and problems are.  Develop solutions to these problems and your services become more and more valuable to them.
  6. Keep up with trends and be an innovator – Depending on the industry you are in, trends may change quickly or slowly, but there will always be news to keep up with.  Be on top of the trends in your industry and be an innovator as the first one to come up with solutions based upon these trends.  Again, this increases your businesses value to your clients.

Jenny Russell is the owner of JenRus Freelance, an Internet Marketing agency specializing in search engine optimization, social media marketing, and freelance writing.  After graduating from Bethany College in 2002, Jenny built eight years of marketing experience through positions in healthcare marketing, community development, and traditional advertising.

Win a copy of Young Professional’s Guide to Success. Comment on, tweet about or blog about blog posts posted from Dec. 15 to Dec. 21 to gain points to win. Learn more here. Read the contest rules here.

Guest Post by: Hannah DeMilta (@HannahDemilta)

Attending classes and doing your homework is often not enough to secure a job after graduation. You have to be proactive and constantly networking, willing to take on multiple internships perhaps even a post-grad internship before landing that entry-level position. While the job market remains competitive, there are several things undergrads can do to help get ahead. I speak from the experience of a public relations major, but most of these tips could be applied to any major.

Learn from the best: If you are interested in public relations and healthcare, you should probably know who the leaders in this field are. This might require doing some research. Follow them on twitter and read blogs and articles. If you aren’t sure who the leaders in your field are, don’t be afraid to ask someone to point you in the right direction. Always be looking ahead to those influencers and learn from them because one day you want to be them.

Intern as much as possible: One internship experience is great, but 10 internship experiences are even better. I’m NOT suggesting you intern for the sake of interning, but if you can continue to gain skills and make contacts, you definitely should. Take your four years of college to really learn what career possibilities are out there. I’ve gotten something different out of each of my internships. Multiple internships also teach you to work for different people with different style of management. Learn what styles work for you.

Network at events that are not “networking events”: It’s great to attend networking events, especially if they are geared toward students. These are often set-up to be focused on the students and they can help you “get comfortable” chatting with professionals. However, I would challenge you to seek other events not just for students. Attend tweet-ups and popular meet-ups in your area. Meet professionals that aren’t expecting to see a student. It may be more intimidating at first but you’ll also gain a lot of respect for being professional and thinking on a larger scale.

Ask questions, ask A LOT of questions: This is something I regret not doing at my first internships. I wouldn’t want to bother people so I would sometimes limit my questions. I’m not referring to just asking questions about projects you are working on, I mean any questions. If you want to know why your boss is pitching to one news station but not another, ask. Be polite, but remember you are there to learn. Small details matter and you should always be curious to learn.

Send thank you notes: It’s a known rule to send a thank you note after an interview but I think there are other times a thank you can be issued. Definitely thank someone for a written or verbal recommendation. You don’t have to write a message, you can send an email or direct message them on Twitter. Sometimes you can just thank someone for their guidance or mentoring. Be genuine, and don’t thank everyone on your contact list to suck up. Give thanks where thanks is due and it will be remembered.

What other advice would you give to an undergrad to get ahead? What are some ways young professionals can achieve success?

Hannah DeMilta is a senior Public Relations major at Otterbein College with a minor in Deaf Culture and Language (ASL). She is the site manager and PR coordinator for SportsNetworker.com and current communications intern for Al Jamiat Magazine. Hannah is passionate about community service and working with others. Feel free to connect with her on twitter.

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Rachel M. Esterline works in public relations and marketing communications. Her blog, ExPRessions, contains her musings about PR, marketing, career and professional development, Gen Y issues, personal branding and more. Rachel also does freelance consulting and writing. She is originally from Genesee, Mich., and will graduate from Central Michigan University in May 2010.