When I first heard the term “networking,” I used to imagine an inner circle of high-powered business people getting together to talk strategy and discuss their businesses. The concept seemed intimidating, but being the outgoing person I am, I decided to see what these events were all about.
The more I went to them, the more I realized it was just people talking about their jobs and getting to know one another. At first, it can seem daunting, especially when most of the people in attendance are senior executives and, in some cases, nearly twice my age. However, I’ve found that going to networking events are good for several reasons:
First, it can be an educational experience. If you are looking to switch career paths, finding a networking event in that industry is a lot easier than trying to set up an informational interview with a top level exec.
Second, these events also give you the opportunity to speak with several people in one industry, rather than just a single person at one informational interview.
In today’s world, finding a job is largely about who you know. The best way to get to know the important people in your field is to meet them at networking events. Everyone loves to hear how great they are and how great their job and company is. So, once you have your “elevator pitch” down and personalized business cards, you have the perfect opportunity to express interest in their company and what they do.
Getting involved in networking groups is also a great way to stay abreast of current trends in the industry and to also fine tune your networking skills. A couple of my favorites are the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and PR Diva. I joined PRSA's New Professionals group, which is for professionals with less than five years experience in public relations. By being on the board of the New Professionals group I have had an opportunity to plan and coordinate events. I have also had the opportunity to speak at several of these events and reach out to young people looking to start their career in PR.
With the US unemployment rate holding steady at nine percent and recruiters still being overwhelmed with resumes everyday, the best way to get ahead of the game is to put yourself out there, in front of the decision makers or at the very least, in front of those who work with them.
I’d be happy to share more about networking events and my experience with them as a young professional at the next one I attend.
In other exciting news, Sterling will be opening a new office in San Francisco, so stay tuned for details on our open house.
I look forward to meeting you then!