Before I chose PR as my major, I was hating school and studying social work. When I knew it was time to move on from social work I sat down with my mom and went, “Mom, help me choose a major.” She answered with, “Laura, I think PR would really be a great for you.” She would’ve said real estate if it was a major; I don’t think I’ve gone a day without getting a text or phone call without her saying she wants me to follow in her foot- steps of realty. PR and realty are very similar in some aspects because all I ever hear is, “having connections are everything.” I always knew that building relationships with clients in my future is important, but I never knew how important until now. You don’t need to wait for your career to start in order to build professional relationships, start NOW.
I recently had two internships over the summer in California; one in marketing and one in PR. I was blown away at how many numbers I flew back home with for people in the PR field. Just by starting up a light conversation with someone else can lead to talk about your future in public relations. I was also surprised at how helpful people were; even if that particular person I was talking to wasn’t the PR, they would try their hardest to think of someone they knew and set me up with them. For example, I recently got a position at a hotel downtown Ann Arbor as a front desk clerk, so I’m constantly being forced to talk to every single person that walks up to the front desk and who calls the hotel, which is probably over a 100 each shift. The other day I answered the phone and this woman was making a reservation for the end of October and as I was filling in her information I noticed that it was a Laguna Beach zip code, which is where I spent the summer and also where I want to move back to when I graduate. I told her my story and we went into a 15 minute phone conversation about how she is a VP at a PR agency in Laguna Beach. She asked for my name, number, and email, and said she’d love to meet with me when she comes into town. We recently just connected on LinkedIn. I would advise EVERY PR student to get a LinkedIn! My manager overheard the whole conversation and later said that 90% of employees that work here have left for a job because of the connections they make with guests at the hotel. It was a huge eye-opener that you can truly already make professional relationships if you make the effort to. People are more than willing to help, you just have to be open and connect. Although it’s so important to use social media for relationships, I think building them in person if possible is equally as important.
Here are two great quotes from two articles about building networking:
“A generic networking request for a job is worse than no request at all, because you can lose that networking contact and opportunity.”
“The more you procrastinate, the more you will find yourself disconnected from the opportunities that may potentially advance your career or allow you to meet the right people. “
This quote from our Social Media book is true for social media outlets and in person: “No matter the demographic, device, or even the numbers, human beings are motivated to connect and share for a multitude of reasons: researching, finding information and inspiration, participating, connecting with friends and for entertainment”, (pg.5.)