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Four Ways to Successfully Network: Advice from Career Coach Bernie Frazier

Eastern Illinois University students, who attended PRSA’s Career Development
Day, say competitive atmosphere is their biggest concern for the job market.
From left to right: Katelyn Ifft, Mikayla Mckeown, Courtney Cymerman.

Graduating from college is an accomplishment to be proud of. However, what lies beyond graduation is a journey that cannot be predicted. College students from surrounding Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapters attended PRSA’s Career Development Day to seek advice and networking tips to help prepare them for a career in public relations.

Three Eastern Illinois University students discussed what they'd like to gain from the conference, such as discovering what fields best suit them, gaining industry insights from the keynote speaker and media panelists, and building their network with PR students and professionals. As for the students’ biggest concern once they begin the job search, the competitive atmosphere outweighed all. As the industry suggests, graduates are recommended to have at least two to three internships prior to landing their first entry level job. This is a lot of pressure for students that may have not had the time or resources available to pursue an internship.

To those of you that think it’s too late for internship experience, here is a piece of advice from career coach and Career Development Day keynote speaker Bernie Frazier: Make your own internship by contacting family, friends or anyone in your network that may need PR help or guidance. By offering to support a company or individual, you can expand your portfolio, gain hands-on experience and also make important contacts for the future. Frazier’s presentation focused on the importance of “building relationships”. She emphasized why networking is not only beneficial, but necessary for our profession.

Frazier highlighted four key points to successfully network:

  1. Seek out ways to help others. This is also known as the platinum rule of networking. Don’t approach networking by asking others to help you land your dream job when they don’t even know who you are. Offer your expertise now and in the future you could be the first person they think of for an open position.

  2. Start with the people you know. Your friends and family know your skills; they are behind you 100 percent and want you to succeed. Trust in this foundation of people to help you find work and provide opportunities for introductions along the journey ahead.

  3. Don’t snub the “little people”. Many do not know how much of an influence the administrative assistant is when you’re on-site for an interview. Always be respectful and courteous to anyone you meet whether at an interview or a professional event. You never know who could be a decision maker down the road in your career.

  4. Maintain contact. This is key for big networking events when you leave with piles of business cards. If you intend for a certain person to be a valuable asset to you, keep in contact with them. Occasionally reach out and ask how their life is going, if they need help with a project or if you could buy them a cup of coffee to catch up. This will help your networking event introductions blossom into relationships.

Out of these four key points, everyone at Career Development Day was challenged to put at least one practice into action to help land a first job or translate into future careers down the road.

What challenge will you accept, and why? Or, tell us how one of these tips has helped you in your career?

This post is courtesy of Nicole Halpin who is currently serving as Communications Co-Chair for the 2015 PRSA Midwest District Conference. Previously, she was the Conference Chair for the St. Louis Digital Communications Summit. Nicole is the Marketing Coordinator for Altus Properties. You can catch up with her on Twitter @nehalpin12.

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  1. Tressa L. Robbins

    Mar. 19, 2015

    Great post, Nicole! I especially like #4--keeping in touch. I try to explain this to students. If I only hear from you when you need something from me, I'm not as apt to help you!