We’ve all been told to network so we understand the benefits but, whether you’re starting out your career or are 5, 10, 15 years in, you may feel out of your comfort zone at networking events. Some of you may even say these types of events aren’t worth your time. We want to open your mind to a slightly different approach this summer while you have “longer days” and maybe a slightly lessened workload. Follow our tips below to make the most of your time and make hay while the sun shines. Then, let us know how it went!
Ask the Right Questions
Many times we miss out on an opportunity to make a great connection because we are asking the wrong questions. Ditch the same old, “What do you do?” and open with:
- What are you reading these days? | The book someone has on their nightstand can tell you about them. It could give you a mutual jumping off point to discuss a book you both enjoyed or allow the other person to share some of their interests with you. It can also give you a great follow-up point: “Hey, I read that book you recommended and really learned a lot.” Our top summer suggestions include one oldie but goodie, and two new PR must-reads.
- Straight Talk About Public Relations: What You Think You Know is Wrong by Robert Wynne
- Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict the Future by Rohit Bhargava
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
- Have you been to [insert Charlotte’s newest hot spot here] yet? | Charlotte is full of new restaurants, bars, activities (Top Golf, anyone?) and venues. As an industry with their finger on the pulse of the QC, there is a good chance whoever you are talking to has been to the new hot spot or is dying to go.
- Do you have a “wow-project” that you are involved with? | When you do want to delve into work, this question will allow you to dig a little deeper than just getting a generic job title and a company.
Sometimes the traditional model where you show up, get a drink ticket, listen to a speaker, pass your business card around to a few people and leave just isn’t what you’re looking for. We’ve pulled together a few other “networking” events to help you shake things up this summer:
- InstabeerupCLT | A casual monthly event hosted at a variety of locations that serve beer. As CharlotteFive said, “No sponsors. No agenda. No registration. You just show up and drink beer and hang out with people. It’s all very human.” Just follow #instabeerupclt on social media to find out when and where. Hint: It’s usually the last Thursday of the month.
- Take a class | An event doesn’t have to have networking in the title to be a place to meet new connections. Enhance your public speaking and presentation skills with a Public Speaking Masterclass at SkillPop or by joining the local Toastmasters Chapter. Step outside of your comfort zone cand give yourself you a casual atmosphere to learn about those you are learning with.
- Volunteer | Put your extra time to do some good! To double up on the benefits, look for opportunities with PRSA or a bevy of other communications professionals’ organizations. They are always looking for folks to help on the committees for communications, membership, accreditation, new professionals and awards. To get a feel for all of the organizations out there, join us at the Alphabet Bash in August to network with professionals from across the city, and support a local charity while you’re at
And Lastly, Just Reach Out!
If a group setting isn’t your jam, another way to get your toes wet is to reach out individually to someone in the community who you would like to get to know better; whether they are a colleague, a member of the media or someone at another company you admire, all you have to do is ask. Cleary state your intentions (no selling, no pressuring, just connecting), and suggest a casual place to meet such as a coffee shop or a brewery, depending on your connection with the person. If you want a little more backup, bring a friend who is also interested in the industry to break the ice and keep the conversation flowing. And hey, if they say no, give us a shout, we’ll grab a beer with you anytime!