Why is networking important as a PR student?

One of the first thing most PR professionals state when sharing advice for people looking to get into the field is to network, network and then network some more. It was only after attending the annual student/practitioner networking event last week that I realised just how important networking is both as a student and as a PR professional.

It may seem a bit awkward and forced at first, but getting out there and surrounding yourself with people industry is so important, but try and do it in a way that works for you! As cliché as it sounds the PR industry is sometimes all about who you know! It was through work experience that I first began to realise how fundamentally social the industry is. Alongside the fact you're always working as part of a wider team, networking is a core function of the profession, and occurs not only in the work environment, but at industry events, gatherings and nights out!

PR professionals tend to build up relationships with journalists and stakeholders over time, sometimes years, and retain these key relationships throughout their entire career. While we learn this in theory as part of our degrees, actually witnessing these interactions in real life is essential for budding PR professionals, to develop the skills to learn from key people in the industry and form your own relationships with these types of people. With this in mind I thought I'd share my top tips for networking:

The look of concentration!

1. Go to industry events!

Events present the perfect opportunity to start practicing your networking skills, meeting like-minded people and build your network. I was lucky enough that my lecturer hosts an annual networking event on campus with a range of practitioners attending from around the region for my first event (Thanks for hosting Diane!). The CIPR also host regular networking events around the country which are great. Once you sign up to an event, check the speakers on social media and see what they like talking about and what field they're in. This way, you have a topic in mind when you approach.

At these events, you will tend to be out of your comfort zone. But it's important to remember that all those professionals were students before and are only human!

2. Ask questions

These people understand how important it is for students to communicate with successful professionals like themselves, be sure to ask questions about everything you'd like to know! About their role, the industry or any interests. Listening and learning is key as part of the networking process and developing yourself.

3. Stay in touch with your peers

You never know when someone in your class could come in handy! Even in the PR blogging community it's a great way of approaching like-minded talented students. Before I even started blogging and my masters I had conversations with both Orlagh Shanks and Jessica Pardoe about starting my blog and both offered such good advice back in September that I've kept it up ever since! Be sure to look through the #PRStudent hashtag, read their blogs and connect with people - the worst they can do is say no!

4. Get connected 

Thanks to the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter, networking is so much easier now than ever before, students can now connect with practitioners and follow their careers. It's the perfect place to join the conversation and comment on some posts. There are so so many successful people out there who are always willing to talk to students and help out - you just need to approach them!

How have you found networking? Have you got any tips you remember while trying to network? Let me know below!

Beth x

1 comment

  1. Thank you very much for the mention lovely, and you've hit the nail on the head. You've got a bright future ahead of you! X

    Jess | www.jessicapardoe.com