PR Tactics For Business Networking And Personal Branding

Smart public relations isn’t just for corporations, brands or tech startups. A PR-based approach to one’s personal brand can also help when it comes to nailing that next job opportunity, new client, or partner. Here are some common ways that PR principles can be used for successful business networking.

Boost your digital footprint.

One of the first things a PR professional does when ramping up for a new client is to assess its digital trail. Everyone knows the power of online reputation, but building a personal brand isn’t just about managing any negative mentions. It’s about owning page one of search results to reflect a track record of achievement, or a digital footprint that communicates expertise. Bear in mind that employers often “pre-shop” for senior candidates before meeting them.

Be a resource.

One of the most basic ways that B2B PR professionals gain visibility for clients is to present them as a resource for media – no strings attached. This is also a good rule for personal networking: in most of your meetings with contacts or recommenders, you shouldn’t ask for anything. Instead, offer insight or contacts they don’t already have. I have a colleague who saves up introductions to offer during informal meetings or contacts with members of her network. It keeps her top-of-mind, and when she needs a favor, it’s easier and more likely to meet a positive response.

Cultivate recommenders and keep them informed.

PR pros sometimes refer to the “newsstream” for a brand or company, and just like any growing company, you want to tell a story about momentum, success, or positive change to prospective employers or clients. Make sure KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) in your industry are in the loop and ready to say the right things if they’re asked, because the most credible references are often the informal ones. Make an edcal (editorial calendar) of updates and reach out every quarter or so with personal notes or links to social media posts.

Reference your own authority.

As we say when preparing a client for a media interview, you can refer to your own track record or expertise without sounding pompous. Position yourself as a legitimate authority in your area of expertise through relevant content. Be a favorited resource on Quora – a terrific community for sharing knowledge. Or start an industry group on LinkedIn. Make connections that allow you to convey your own expertise instead of merely asking for connections or liking content.

Package yourself.

I’m not much for grandiose or silly job titles like “social media sherpa” or “experience curator.” But explanations that reflect real experience or accomplishment (“my specialty is using technology to solve problems” or “I translate great ideas into new products”) can add punch to your presentation.

Sharpen your storytelling.

Having trouble with your “narrative”? Do what the pros do: draw up a list of open-ended question or difficult questions, write the ideal responses, then edit them to be shorter and more colorful. The point is not to be canned, but to replace rambling or boring anecdotes with memorable ones. For important opportunities, consider videotaping yourself in a simulated conversation.
Remember, the near-disaster, turnaround story, or big sales win is memorable material for interviews or meetings. There are some great tips on shaping a story from books like Ted Talks Storytelling by Akash Karia and my favorite, film producer Peter Guber’s memoir Tell To Win.

PR Tips for Networking Events

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”

No phrase better captures the importance of networking, not only in public relations, but in just about any industry. It’s an essential part of getting ahead, yet there are many ways to self-sabotage. For some shy folks in the biz, networking can be absolutely terrifying.

But successful contact-building is something you can practice, and with the weather warming up, there are sure to be tons of relevant opportunities to do so. Here are some important reminders for the next event you attend.

Do your research. See if you can take a look at an RSVP list before the event to get a feel for those attending. Will it be mostly young professionals? Industry vets? Getting to know the crowd beforehand not only is a great way to prep conversation topics in advance, but it helps calm nerves or anxiety.

Do come with some ice-breakers. Easy ways to strike up conversation include: comparing notes on a recent speaker; asking about membership in the sponsoring group/organization; industry trends, or topical news. Open-ended questions or casual comments (“I’m glad I rushed out of my office for once instead of working late again; how about you?”) can start a conversation flow.

Don’t dress down. Networking events are great opportunities to meet people quickly, so it’s important to leave a positive first impression. Your role doesn’t matter; there is no reason a college intern shouldn’t dress like an executive! Accessories are also a great way to express your personality and could act as a potential ice breaker.

Don’t cling. It’s fine to go with a colleague, but don’t huddle with her all evening; you’ll be more approachable if you’re mingling and have an open body posture. By the same token, don’t monopolize those you’re meeting. After 5 or 10 minutes, excuse yourself to take a call/visit the bar/find a contact. Better yet, play (business) matchmaker and introduce them to another contact or associate of yours, then move on.

Don’t abuse the open bar. Bee-lining to the bar might seem tempting in an intimidating crowd of people, but be sure to control your drinking! Limit yourself to one or two drinks for the event and take your time with them. You want to be remembered for your business or employee potential, not for being a party animal.

Don’t forget to follow up. Just because the event is over doesn’t mean the networking is! Look through your new collection of business cards and follow up, whether through Linkedin or email. It’s helpful to reference something you talked about at the event and look for opportunities to connect again.

Tricks Of Trade Show PR and Networking

Trade shows and conferences represent an opportunity to reconnect with friends and associates in the industry; make new contacts; and be inspired by influential speeches and personalities. But, too often we view attendance as a group effort, or even a chore, sticking with the team we came with or those we know.

Whether it’s a new product show, a blogger conference or a huge happening like SXSW, here are some tips to maximize the networking opportunity so you can get a return on your time investment in the form of insight and contacts.

Have a plan. Study the floor plan in advance and plot your path to make sure you visit the most relevant booths and panels. Most exhibit directories exist online and many have a calendar plugin so you can manage visits with location in mind and avoid walking back and forth all day. Cluster meetings in the same general area for convenience, if possible, and give priority to those exhibitors whose businesses are most likely to advance your own.

Take names. Don’t be shy about asking for cards or using apps like to download contacts. Use every opportunity to make a connection, whether it’s a journalist or blogger; potential business partner; or even a prospective employee. Limit your visits to 10-minute increments, but don’t leave without making a date to continue the conversation if  it’s warranted.

Document and share. Take smartphone shots of unique displays, note the best speeches, and share them on your social media feeds. It’s a great way of connecting with colleagues who might not realize you’re there!

Dress well. The trick to trade shows is to appear professional but be comfortable. A jacket or structured sweater is always good for a professional look, and for day-to-evening temperature changes, but you’ll be thankful that you wore smart flats!

Follow up. A quick note, a phone date, Facebook connection… just be sure to choose one and not all at once.  Be diligent to let no one go un-contacted after the event;  this is often the time when the “real deals” are sealed.

Got any trade (show) secrets you’d like to share?

How To Network Like A PR Pro

A guest post by networking and PR pro, our very own George Drucker.

Which would you rather do? Make cold calls and send emails to names from a directory trying to convince them that they should see you and your agency; or send one email that says, “So glad we met recently at the Jones party; it was really great fun.”

That line can say it all. Every person you meet, every individual you say hello to, every function you attend, is a bonafide networking opportunity. It’s a unique chance to engage with people and learn about them, who they are, where they’re from, what they do, where they work, where they went to school, their interests and hobbies. Networking can be done so naturally.

After each brief encounter, you exchange cards, follow up with a breezy email and, voila! A budding relationship. A networked connection. And you didn’t even have to go to LinkedIn!

What are the keys to networking success?

Engage with people every chance you get. As noted, every encounter, every handshake, every greeting is a network opportunity. And when you have the chance to engage and get a dialogue started — make the person you’re speaking to feel you’re interested in them, what they have to say, what they think or feel.

Ask questions, and listen to the answers. You’ll be amazed how the conversation can smoothly, logically flow when you listen. There’s also an axiom here; most people (not all, but most) like to be asked about themselves, and talk about themselves when engaged in natural, tactful conversation. It makes the individual feel the person asking the questions has an engaging personality, and a genuinely likable persona.

Check your ego. Most people don’t want to spend time with someone who seems to love talking about themselves. People like dialogues, not monologues. That doesn’t mean when you think of a personal anecdote relevant to the conversation that it shouldn’t be used, but just don’t let it lead to five minutes of talking about yourself.

Get out there. Everyone has that moment at a cocktail reception, a dinner, or a party, where you’re standing alone, seeing others chatting away in twos and threes, and you think “I hate this. I don’t know anyone,” or “I feel out of place.” Stop right there. Instead, get over that fear and think “there are 60 people here that I don’t know, and I have the unique chance and great opportunity to make 60 new connections, acquaintances, maybe even friends–with a whole new world of of people.”

It’s the art of the network. Use it to your benefit.

Top 5 Things I Learned As A PR Intern

This is a guest post by our great summer intern, Ashley G:

It seems like just yesterday this small town girl took on the city that never sleeps! Four months later, I have a lot to share about what I’ve learned as a public relations intern at New York-based PR firm Crenshaw Communications.

Stay on top of current events. I’m a news fanatic. I love keeping up with local, international, and celebrity news. Here at Crenshaw, my love for everything news actually helped generate media placements for a client. I crafted a pitch around the fact that one in eight New Yorkers is of Asian descent to promote the anchor of a new mall development here,  Asian food emporium Sky Foods.

The benefits of networking. Never miss an opportunity to connect with someone new. Crenshaw provided me with an amazing opportunity to participate in the PRISM (Public Relations Internship Summer in Manhattan) Program. It allowed me to meet fellow student interns working in the industry, as well as knowledgeable public relations and media professionals. By getting to know these individuals, and hearing what they had to say, I’m leaving this summer more confident than ever about what I should expect after graduation.

Don’t wait for the work to come to you. If you finish a project, ask for another. The only way to prove to your co-workers (and to yourself) that you are cut out for the whirlwind world of PR is to seek assignments regularly. You only have a few short months – make them count.

Keep calm and carry on. So your desk is getting cluttered by the post-it reminders of projects due — instead of stressing, I’ve learned to “keep calm and carry on.” At the end of the day, when you’ve completed all of your work on time, you’ll leave the office feeling accomplished.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your internship is a learning experience, and tackling something unfamiliar should be your goal, not your fear. If you’re unsure about something, ask those around you. Your co-workers are there to help, and you’ll hand in your work with the confidence that you did it right.

To everyone at Crenshaw: Thank you for an amazing summer in the city – I couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience, with better people!

Do you have any tips for future PR interns?