Posts tagged ‘networking’

December 11, 2010

Executives are parents too.

My siblings, mom and I all too often mock my dad for his openly schmoozy ways. Whether it be with women at the cologne counter at Macy’s, a gas station attendant, or a waiter or waitress, my dad is proud to be a Chatty Cathy (well…his name is Bill, and Chatty Bill doesn’t have the same ring to it). It’s innate to him, creating conversation with complete strangers. And even more startling to us is how authentic and sincere his motives are. What’s the sense in standing in uncomfortable silence in an elevator, right?

Now, as I stand in elevators striking up conversations with total strangers, I can’t help but admittedly shake my head. I, too, am that Chatty Cathy— thanks, Dad! In fact, if you ask those closest to me, I pride myself the most in my ability to speaking to anyone— and I mean anyone. This is likely attributed to my dad too, whose 30+ years in human resources taught me that those otherwise-intimidating bosses across the table are people just like my dad. There shouldn’t be a soul sitting across the table who I can’t find something in common with. That’s what all humans crave, after all, is a meaningful connection with others. And while I’m certainly not the authority on how to interact with bosses, nor can I judge those who do have a little anxiety (“not everyone can have the world’s greatest dad, Brittany” comes to mind), I do think developing this competency gives me and my fellow Chatty Cathy’s (and Carl’s) an edge.

Literally speaking with strangers in elevators will only take you so far in a job pursuit, but it may be a nice exercise in increasing your level of comfort for legitimate networking opportunities.

Forbes recently suggested the following tips for how best to handle a brief networking opportunity, also known as an elevator speech:

1.  Speak first regardless of where you’re sitting. If the person facilitating the meeting says anyone can start, then don’t simply follow the leader. Be the leader. Doing so will cause others to perceive you as courageous and confident.

2.  Use your title. Women tend to simply mention a department or job function, but not a job title — particularly if it’s a BIG title. Men matter-of-factly drop the title so that everyone knows where they fall in the pecking order. Unless there’s some cultural taboo in your company about using titles, include it in your introduction as just one more data point about who you are professionally.

And while you’re at it — make sure you use your first and last name. Women often use only their first names whereas men use both first and last, thereby sounding more authoritative and taking up slightly more floor time.

3.  Enthusiastically express excitement about how you add value. High energy and enthusiasm are contagious. You want both associated with your professional brand. Additionally, you want others to mentally catalogue the value you add to your department or company.

My biggest piece of advice to those looking to improve their networking nerves—even executives are dads. In order to truly connect with potential employers, coworkers, or your waitress, eliminating the mystique and anxiety, and finding commonalities should and will help make a memorable impression.

What Do You Think: Are you intimidated by executives? What methods do you use to remedy any anxiety you may have?

Sources: Managing Impressions Starts With a Memorable Introduction, Forbes

November 21, 2010

The Write Stuff: Hoosier PRSA Writing Workshop

Today I had the pleasure of attending The Write Stuff: Hoosier PRSA Writing Workshop, organized by the Continuing Education committee of Hoosier PRSA. The workshop featured presentations from area professionals, with a focus on writing for media relations, internal communications, social media, and speeches and scripts.

Photo Credit: Chigmaroff, Flickr

Two sessions were being held simultaneously, thus participants were forced to select only two of the four presentations to attend. I selected the social media and media relations presentation, hoping to obtain a firmer understanding of social media (I may be a little late to this party, but I’m getting there!), and given my interest in pursuing media relations job opportunities.

Writing for Social Media

Robby Slaughter of Slaughter Development, LLC lead this workshop, which focused heavily on key social media concepts. He discussed several challenges associated with social media. He asserted that social media and internet users read only 20 percent of content in front of them.

Slaughter discussed several social media concepts, all of which were entirely new to me. The first, the Dunbar number, he described as the maximum number of stable relationships one can maintain with other individuals. The Dunbar number for online relationships (i.e. blogs, message boards, etc.) is far smaller than the Dunbar number for “real life” relationships. Next, he highlighted the “90-9-1 rule”, pertaining to social media participation. Under this premise, 90 percent of users are lurkers, 9 percent of users contribute from time to time, and only 1 percent of users frequently and actively use social media, accounting for the highest portion of contribution.

Writing for Media Relations

Chad Mertz and Angela Tuell of Borshoff lead this workshop, which focused heavily on the art of the media pitch. In a very clear and concise presentation they outlined the basics of all things media relations, including what reporters look for, what motivates reporters, and how to improve relationships with key media.

Workshop participants were able to practice pitching to media, who attended the event to offer their words of encouragement, best advice, and worst pet peeves. Elizabeth J. Musgrave, freelance blogger of Gotta Go and arts/entertainment editor, Tony Rehagen, Senior Editor of Indianapolis Monthly, Dave Brinkers, Assignments Manager of Indy WRTV-6, and Cory Schouten, Indianapolis Business Journal Real Estate Reporter participated in a round-robin exercise, allowing groups of five to pitch their individual ideas or stories to each professional, and receive honest and constructive critique of techniques and topics.

The entire afternoon was extremely educational and informative. It was nice to interact with other professionals and expand my knowledge of topics of increasing interest to me. I’ve already reached out to many of the speakers and attendants on LinkedIn, and will continue to do so over the next few days.

I’d like to thank Hoosier PRSA for organizing the event, and commend the the Continuing Education committee (especially my friend and fellow graduate student, Steven Cooke) for doing a stellar job at accommodating all of the participants so comfortably and professionally.

November 10, 2010

IU Networking Night: Media & Entertainment

As I mentioned in a previous post, each semester, the IU Alumni Association (IUAA), in partnership with the Student Alumni Association (SAA), organizes a series of Networking Nights. An opportunity for students to interact with professionals across specific industries, Networking Nights feature a panel of relevant guest speakers who discuss their unique career paths and share advice for students entering the world of work.

Tonight I attended the Media & Entertainment Networking Night at IU. As with the last panel, participants had a variety of experience, ranging from production to promotions, programming, and publicity.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Melissa Hook, Promotion Coordinator for WISH-TV in Indianapolis. During the panel she mentioned her background in public relations, and spoke of her seamless transition between public relations into promotions. She spoke of her innate desire to interact with people, and the importance of creating sincere and lasting connections with people; two points that resonated with me on a level I couldn’t have predicted.

At the conclusion of the panel, I thanked her for coming, and told her that essentially, she’s living my dream; doing something she she loves and doing it well. She reminded me that the beauty is in the process. After the job hunting, and the networking, and the interviewing winds down, I’ll have the opportunity to do what I love and do it well— and that’s the ultimate gift.

November 1, 2010

IU Networking Night: Event Planning, Tourism, and Hospitality

Each semester, the IU Alumni Association (IUAA), in partnership with the Student Alumni Association (SAA), organizes a series of Networking Nights. An opportunity for students to interact with professionals across specific industries, Networking Nights feature a panel of relevant guest speakers who discuss their unique career paths and share advice for students entering the world of work.

On October 19, I attended the Event Planning, Tourism, and Hospitality Networking Night. I should mention that aside from Public Relations, I have a passion and interest in wedding/event planning.

The panel featured representatives from The Omni Severin Hotel (in Indianapolis), The Indiana Memorial Union Hotel and Conference Center, Eagle Point Golf Resort (in Bloomington), the Monroe County/Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau, and elsewhere. As with any panel, each participant detailed their duties, outlined challenges, and offered advice to student attendees.

I had an opportunity to speak with Brandi Host, Rooms Division Manager of the Indiana Memorial Union Hotel and Conference Center, whose advice during the panel resonated with me the most. She spoke of the passion she tries to instill and generate in her guests, adding that each day her goal is to inspire the same love she has for Bloomington and IU in each person she interacts with. When asked what she attributes to success in all things communications, she said a communications professional must possess true flexibility and practice problem solving every moment of every day. Additionally, she offered advice like “use common sense”, “we’re not in the business of rocket science” and “be present”.

While the advice seems basic, I can’t help but appreciate the sentiment. In the face of graduation and the beginning of my career, I hope to embark on my journey with a firm set of values and principles in my back pocket.

I’ll be attending two upcoming IU Networking Nights: Media/Entertainment and Writing, Editing and Publishing. I advise any classmate or colleague of mine to take advantage of networking opportunities like the ones hosted by the IUAA/SAA.