July 9, 2014
By: Sydney Gardner @sydneygardner
“It’s all about who you know.” It’s been said time and time again. To a PR student, connecting with professionals can often appear too intimidating to even try, but have no fear! Social media is a great way to connect with professionals in a less stressful environment! Taking a few easy steps will allow you to not only connect with someone you don’t’ know, but probably impress them along the way as well.
Know Their Work
Professionals may be flattered at you fan-girling over how pretty their office is, or who their clients are, but nothing shows your genuine interest better than knowing what they have done. Look up case studies, check out their blog and really read them! This not only gives you the chance to get a true idea of what type of work they do, but it also helps you see if this person is all you’ve cracked them up to be. By being able to discuss a person’s work with them, in and educated and informed manner, you show that you are truly interested in their career industry.
Interact With Them
So now that you have studied up on the person/company/brand that you love, it’s time to let them know. Social media is all about having real conversations so just remember to be yourself. I think one of the best ways to show them you like their work is to share their blog, tweets, etc. Networking on social media allows you to create a more casual environment to interact. Twitter is a great platform for starting conversations with professionals because you aren’t expected (or allowed) to write a lot. Just tell them, and your followers, why you like it. You may even get a reply or a follow from it! You can also comment on their work if you don’t want to share it. Be aware to not over do mentions and comments though! You want to show the person you admire what they do, not that you’re obsessed with them (even if you are).
Now that you’ve laid the foundation for connection, it’s time to take the plunge. I think connecting on LinkedIn is a great midway point between Twitter and email. I recommend connecting on LinkedIn within a few days of having a conversation on social media. Remember to always write an actual note on the invite, not the generic one given. Remind them of the conversation and let them know why you want to connect. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Most professionals will welcome connecting with an enthusiastic student with open arms.
Social media may not scream professionalism to some, but it can be great tool for you to reach out to people you want to connect with. Social media has the unique ability to blend your personal life with your professional one, and that allows you to form genuine connections with people. When you interact with professionals on social media you are able to highlight you’re unique blend of personality and professionalism. So next time you are looking to network, turn to social media. You may be surprised at how successful you will be.