Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Network: Making a Connection

Meet Catia, our segment writer for The Network. As a second year PR major, she hopes to continue to grow professionally and would love to one day see Detroit become a powerhouse city again. Fun fact, she actually inspired big sis Elise to pursue PR!

Hi everyone!

In today’s edition of The Network, I have a real life (as opposed to completely made up?) story to share about one of my recent networking experiences. Last week, I volunteered to work at a fashion show hosted by my school and a partnering local department store. Being the sucker for fashion that I am, I couldn’t resist  signing up to help. Initially, I saw this merely as a means of getting involved in a school activity and hitting the mall. Upon arriving at the event, however, I realized that my over-achiever tendencies and insatiable need to gawk at designer shoes had great network-building potential.

While pondering what the event would entail, things began to click. I was working at a fashion show, and getting experience in an industry I am interested in. Wonderful! Also, this was a relatively large-scale event hosted by a well-known department store and was attended by many successful faculty and alumni of my school. Plus, it received local media coverage. What more could you ask for?! This was essentially an incubator of potential professional connections, waiting to be made.

It all made sense. It was just a matter of figuring out the whos, whats and hows of the situation. First, I felt out the event--walked around, listened to conversations and introductions, mingled a bit, gauged the formality of it. Next, I identified the key people who I wanted to meet. With that established, I took action.

Earlier in the evening, I was referred to the PR director of the department store to receive my volunteer duties. Making it a point to remember her name and position, I approached her after the event to congratulate her on the successful event and thank her for having me. A little courtesy and professional small talk led to the exchange of business cards (see, they are important!) and a new connection in an industry in which I’m interested in developing a career.

Although I’m sure following along as I regale you with the thrilling tales of my extracurricular ventures is enjoyable enough, there are some valuable take-aways from this story. Get involved. I know this may seem like the most generic advice out there, but it keeps showing up for a reason. Staying up-to-date on volunteer opportunities and local or industry specific events will expose you to people, places and opportunities that may be beneficial to your professional growth. Next, be aware. Every situation has the potential to yield a networking opportunity. Be attentive and inquisitive, reach out to people, make the first move. Ultimately, you never know when you’re just a casual introduction or handshake away from an internship, job offer or new connection.

Until next time,

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