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3 great ways to network with other PR professionals

Who you know might just teach you what you know

We’ve all heard the battle cry of networkers (all together now): “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” At the surface, that may seem disheartening – no matter how much expertise you have, if you don’t have great connections, you won’t go anywhere. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that through networking you will not only build connections, but continue to learn about your industry as well.

Social Media Club of Chicago members listen to a panel at the group's May event.

Social Media Club of Chicago members listen to a panel at the group's May 2009 event.

CisionBlog has spent a lot of time discussing how social media, a struggling economy and shifts in the media landscape are changing the world of public relations more rapidly than ever before. How can any busy PR professional stay on top of it all? Of course, reading magazines, blogs and other articles on the industry is a great place to start. But networking with others in your industry can do even more. You can take what you’ve learned from reading, experiences or school and discuss the concepts that are changing our industry. You can share stories and learn from how others handled a similar situation. You’ll develop connections that can help you in your career development, whether it’s finding your next job or learning more about your current position from others. Here are three ways to start making those valuable connections:

  1. Membership Organizations for Communicators: From local chapter meetings to international conferences to online communities, membership organizations are the ultimate one-stop shop for PR professionals looking to network. They provide a variety of opportunities including events like conferences, chapter meetings, online forums and webinars; help with job searching and career development; and recognition programs like awards and accredidation. (Ever seen a PR practioner with ABC or APR after their name? ABC – Accredited Business Communicator – is offered by IABC and APR – Accredited in Public Relations – is offered by PRSA.) *CORRECTION: The APR accredidation is not only offered by PRSA. In the US, the accreditation program is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), a consortium of 9 public relations and communications organizations, including PRSA. You can view the 9 organizations on the UAB homepage. Additionally, in Canada, the APR is available from the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS). (According to recent blog posts, the accredidation program from CPRS is truly excellent.) Thanks to Judy Gombita for pointing me in the right direction.*  Here’s a quick list of some of the top organizations for communicators:
  2. Online PR Groups: There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of public relations groups online. Think about who you want to network with, and do some searching to find just the right group for you. A word to the wise: if you join groups but then don’t engage, the benefit won’t extend past a bullet point on your resume. Helping others, posting questions and engaging in discussions are the quick ways to build a network of professional connections. Although I can’t include everyone here, below are a few of my personal favorite PR/media networks (feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments below):
  3. Conferences, Trade Shows, Tweet-ups and more: Get out of the house! Making connections face-to-face is one of the best ways to make long-lasting, valuable connections. You can find local Tweet-ups on Twitter Search by searching for your location. The Social Media Club has tons of local chapters that hold events regularly. With a little searching, you can find events for communicators in your city.

What are some of your favorite ways to make connections and stay informed about what’s new in PR?

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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