Who you know might just teach you what you know
We’ve all heard the battle cry of networkers (all together now): “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” At the surface, that may seem disheartening – no matter how much expertise you have, if you don’t have great connections, you won’t go anywhere. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that through networking you will not only build connections, but continue to learn about your industry as well.
Membership Organizations for Communicators: From local chapter meetings to international conferences to online communities, membership organizations are the ultimate one-stop shop for PR professionals looking to network. They provide a variety of opportunities including events like conferences, chapter meetings, online forums and webinars; help with job searching and career development; and recognition programs like awards and accredidation. (Ever seen a PR practioner with ABC or APR after their name? ABC – Accredited Business Communicator – is offered by IABC and APR – Accredited in Public Relations – is offered by PRSA.) *CORRECTION: The APR accredidation is not only offered by PRSA. In the US, the accreditation program is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), a consortium of 9 public relations and communications organizations, including PRSA. You can view the 9 organizations on the UAB homepage. Additionally, in Canada, the APR is available from the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS). (According to recent blog posts, the accredidation program from CPRS is truly excellent.) Thanks to Judy Gombita for pointing me in the right direction.* Here’s a quick list of some of the top organizations for communicators:
- International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
- Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
- International Public Relations Association (IPRA)
- Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS)
Online PR Groups: There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of public relations groups online. Think about who you want to network with, and do some searching to find just the right group for you. A word to the wise: if you join groups but then don’t engage, the benefit won’t extend past a bullet point on your resume. Helping others, posting questions and engaging in discussions are the quick ways to build a network of professional connections. Although I can’t include everyone here, below are a few of my personal favorite PR/media networks (feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments below):
- PR Open Mic
- LinkedIn Groups (just type in PR keywords and you’ll find tons of groups)
- Facebook Groups (just type in PR keywords and you’ll find tons of groups)
- Young PR Pros on Yahoo! Groups
Conferences, Trade Shows, Tweet-ups and more: Get out of the house! Making connections face-to-face is one of the best ways to make long-lasting, valuable connections. You can find local Tweet-ups on Twitter Search by searching for your location. The Social Media Club has tons of local chapters that hold events regularly. With a little searching, you can find events for communicators in your city.