As a PR amateur emerging in to the cutthroat, yet exhilarating, industry of Public Relations, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of networking. Not just digital networking, but face-to-face, real world networking, where you can personally market yourself and potentially form an enduring bond with the industry’s most valued professionals.
A bachelor’s degree, a strong work ethic, and relevant experience are essential, but not a guarantee, for landing your dream position or client. It’s all about who you know and, ultimately, who knows you. Opportunities will not be at your disposal if you are not diligently striving to put yourself out there. It is imperative that you make the effort to network even if that means stalking the social media accounts of a high profile celebrity publicist until you unearth a direct email address.
I recently lunched with Beyonce’s former publicist and Lil John’s right hand wing woman in the music biz, Tamar Juda. Yes, that’s right, the woman who was responsible for launching Queen Bey’s first Album as a solo artist “Dangerously in Love” and regularly attends the Grammy’s right by the side of her A-list clients.
So how did I manage to network with one of the most desirable entertainment publicists in Hollywood? I follow the majority of Tamar’s clients on social media and, once in a blue moon, they accredit her with their gigs and press placements. The twitter handle “LastWordPR” struck me and I immediately put my grade A investigative skills to the test which led me to Tamar’s email address.
As tenacious and career-hungry as I am, I made it a point not to bombard Tamar with pleas for internships and references. Instead, I concisely summed up my experiences and objectives while insinuating interest for receiving career advice and mentorship.
The objective is not necessarily securing a job, but making a lasting impression where you can keep in touch with the person for future reference.
1. Dress to Impress
Effortless style and confidence are key to professionally presenting yourself. Not to mention, comfort. High heels and a tight dress are not the quintessential look in this industry. You want to be comfortable and in your element.
2. Remain calm and sophisticated
Don’t let the stardom and prominence of the person cloud your thoughts. Superficial and forced interactions have no substance. Treat it as a casual conversation.
3. Treat it as a learning experience, not a business venture
Yes the goal of networking is for exposure and opportunity, but do not selfishly let it consume you. This person has graciously allocated time from their hectic schedule to meet with you.Do not hound them for work, appreciate and value the experiences and wisdom they are sharing with you.
4. Engage and actively contribute
People love to talk about themselves and share their successes, but the conversation is more substantial and meaningful when you can relate. Don’t be afraid to share relevant experiences and personal aspirations. You will benefit more from the conversation.
5. Express Gratitude
Credit their work and their time for meeting with you. Follow up with a thank you email and offer assistance with their endeavors in the future.