Networking: What Do you Really Want?

Her main piece of advice? Figure out what you want.

Simple, but surprisingly powerful. My colleagues have written some fantastic posts here about focused networking and social networking for aspiring PR pros, but her directive is more applicable to me right now in my career. As a mid-senior level agency professional, the “what I want” from networking is not totally clear-cut. As my colleague and I talked, it seemed my peers and I could choose from several networking goals.

Do you want to:

  • Get a new job? What kind?
  • Meet peers in your profession?
  • Find a mentor? To help you do what?
  • Start growing business for your firm?
  • Develop deep knowledge and connections in one industry?
  • Become a generalist with intelligence and contacts across several industries?

These options aren’t mutually exclusive, but they do require thinking differently about the networks you join and how you network once you belong.  PRSA provides a network of PR and communications professionals from every industry and setting. It offers the opportunity to meet and learn from peers, find a mentor to help you hone your communications skills, or talk to people about a new job in the field. But if your primary goal is interacting with potential clients in a specific industry or gaining deep knowledge about that field, it’s not as helpful.

At Bliss I focus on consulting public relations, so I need to know that industry inside and out – I need to understand how firms operate, the challenges they face, and what their future opportunities are. I also want to meet more senior consulting executives as a way to potentially grow business in our professional services practice. Being part of an organization like the Association of Management Consulting Firms allows me to do both – I interact with industry decision-makers and gain better insight into their world at the same time.

Everyone knows networking is important to their career, but younger professionals don’t always think about it through a strategic lens. Once you identify what you want and choose the right organizations to join, the next step is ensuring that you network the right way. I’ll dive into that in my next post, Networking: Getting What You Want.

How have you organized your networking goals?


To reach Siobhan:

Phone: 212.840.1661
Twitter: @shiv245
LinkedIn: Siobhan Ford