Making professional connections at the Holiday Humbug

December 30, 2016
Joanna Williams

The CPRS Hamilton annual Holiday Humbug is a great opportunity to grow your network and to meet other communications professionals. CPRS Hamilton mentorship program participants met prior to the Humbug to discuss networking tips. Here’s some advice shared:

Start with a plan

  • Be purpose driven
  • As with all good PR plans, have a goal and objective – even if it is to make just one connection
  • Prepare a few conversation starters
  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date
  • Do some research ahead of time – often at these events, people must register, and their name is listed on the registration page
  • Check out event guests on LinkedIn or Twitter, but most importantly, look to see if you have any common connections

Conversation starters

Making the initial connection at a networking event can seem like a daunting task, but if you have a few questions in mind, and a few specific areas of interest, being prepared can help ease your mind going into a networking situation.

One great way to start a conversation is to ask for advice. Most people like to talk about themselves, so find out more about the other person, or find someone you know and ask them to introduce you to one of their colleagues. If you’re interested in the healthcare industry, you can ask them if they know anything about it, or someone that does.

As you are talking, if you discover common interests build on that by asking more questions, but focus on keeping the conversation casual. Topics of discussion could include what you have done professionally, key interests, and even volunteer experience.

Possible questions to ask:

  • What do you do?
  • How long have you been a member of CPRS?
  • Do you have any pointers/tips you can provide for new practitioners starting in the field?

Networking pointers

  • CPRS Hamilton is a community and everyone is welcome, so have a colleague introduce you, and start the conversation that way
  • You don’t have to be an extrovert to be a great networker
  • If you’re shy about approaching people, then buddy up
  • If you want to get out of a conversation, do it gracefully: one suggestion is to go get a drink or something to eat
  • Tip: don’t go after pairs – typically they will be having a one-on-one conversation
  • If a person is alone, or in a group of three or more, they will be easier to approach

Follow up

  • Stay in touch with people you meet
  • Exchange business cards – on the back of their business card write down a few key points about what you discussed, so you can go back and remind yourself of the conversation
  • Connect on LinkedIn
  • Occasionally send them an email with an article they would be interested in reading
  • Send a handwritten card – it cuts through the clutter and is a personal way to stay in touch and connect with people
  • Follow up with an informational interview or a request to get together for coffee
  • Do not ask them for a job
  • Remember: we are all here to help each other grow professionally