Network. Network. Network. Why I Keep Doing It

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Even at this stage of my career — 30-plus years in public relations and other communications disciplines — I still find it necessary to expand my network.

(Note to self: Where has the time gone? Can I get some of it back? Can someone develop an app for that?)

Yes, that's me in the center of it all, in my role as moderator.

Yes, that’s me in the center of it all, in my role as moderator at recent panel discussion. Photo credit: NAHJ Chicago Chapter.

Given the opportunity and time, I attend events and activities hosted by PRSA Chicago and other organizations. My mantra: Every time you can interact, speak, present, lead or learn, you grow as a professional.

Here’s a case in point. In late April, I moderated a panel discussion hosted by the Chicago chapters of the Hispanic Public Relations Association and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.  The theme: “PR Pros and Journalists Working Together for the Good of the Story.”

The dialogue was spirited, from the panelists and those who attended. Photo credit: NAHJ Chicago Chapter.

The dialogue was spirited, from the panelists and those who attended. Photo credit: NAHJ Chicago Chapter.

The event was hosted at Edelman’s Chicago offices and featured outstanding panelists from local broadcast news, the corporate sector and the agency side of public relations.

You can read my thoughts in this post published on a great industry resource, Hispanic Marketing and PR, a site I’ve contributed to before.  And, visit this page to get a more extensive visual perspective of the afternoon.

So, what did I gain from this exercise:

1.  Better insight on working with the media.

2.  Greater understanding of people who comprise the Hispanic demographic.

3.  Another opportunity to hone my presentation skills.

4.  Promotion of myself and the university research unit where I now manage public affairs.

5.  And, the ability to network with fellow public relations professionals and members of the media and make new friends.

Digital communications has changed the world forever.  And, as I noted in this post from last year, I’ve nurtured some great virtual friendships.

Still, to me, interpersonal communications offer so much more. After all, it’s impossible to shake hands virtually. But I’ll bet someone’s working on an app for that.



Putting the “Work” in Networking

Here’s the latest from the PRDude, also known as Edward M. Bury, APR

For those of us seeking that next great career position, there’s lots of help out there.   Just did some very unscientific online research.  Here’s what I found when conducting a Google search of these topics:

  • Career sites — 102 million results
  • Career books — 495 million results
  • Employment agencies — 27 million results
  • Career counselors — 8.8 million results

I did not specify “public relations” in any of these searches; but it’s pretty clear there are many, many options and resources for the job seeker to utilize and pursue.

Here’s another one: Getting off the computer, out of the house and meeting people.  Yes, it’s called “networking” today, and there’s even a “speed” version.  Google “networking,” and 226 million results are revealed.  Full disclosure: I just reviewed the first two pages of results.  I found results that provided advice on how to network, definitions for social networks,  links to networks geared to markets and industries and lots more.   There are even images that depict networking:

Does this really go on at some networking events?

I wholeheartedly support the concept of networking as a way to open doors and opportunities for career advancement; and, I have the results to support my contention.  Here’s a summary of my networking events from June 1 through July 1 — that’s today — of 2010.

  1. Breakfast meeting with a former national president of the Public Relations Society of America.
  2. Senior PR leaders reception sponsored by PRSA Chicago at Tribune Tower.
  3. Lunch with two public relations industry colleagues.
  4. A career coaching event sponsored by the Association Forum of Chicago.
  5. A “consultants circle” of public relations and marketing professionals  held at a suburban Starbucks.
  6. A luncheon sponsored by PRSA Chicago.
  7. A new business meeting with a diversified Chicago real estate company.
  8. An alumni event sponsored by Illinois State University.
  9. Another new business meeting — the result of a lead from a networking event I attended in June.
  10. A casual meeting with a prospective client over beers.
  11. Lunch today with a former colleague.

And, for good measure, in the past 30 days I had two formal, face-to-face job interviews, two phone interviews and one online career event.

On average, in the past month I attended or participated in some career advancement activity every other day. This was a lot of work, but it’s necessary to help me reach my goal of securing that next great position in public relations.

Companies don’t hire resumes; they hire people.  The best way to put myself out in front of people I don’t know is to shut off the computer, put on appropriate attire and get out of the house.  Don’t forget the business cards,  your “career summary speech” and your personality.  And, don’t be bashful about letting those you meet know why you’re there.

So far, July is a little bit light in terms of networking events, with just two on the books.  But that will change.

A final note: At my ISU alumni event, held on the 70th floor of a restaurant overlooking Lake Michigan, I not only enjoyed some excellent wine, hors d’ouevers and conversation, I met some very interesting people.  In fact, I counseled two young ISU students on the value of networking and invited them to stay in contact; one was interested in public relations.

I’ve not heard from my new friends, but if they read this post, here’s some advice:  If someone offers to make a connection, take it.  I’d welcome the opportunity to stay connected.