Written by Julia Zinsmeister, Account Supervisor for the UO Business School Academic Centers team
As public relations students, we are constantly told, “it’s all about who you know.” Networking is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of the PR world. From email introductions to informational interviews, some may say that to master the art of networking is to master the art of public relations. But what do these connections mean in the long term? Professional connections provide value to students and young professionals in the workforce. With all the time and energy we put into networking, it’s important to not let these relationships run dry. Here are a few tips for keeping in touch with your professional contacts:
- Remember your contacts
Be sure to keep a running list of professional connections you have made. Whether you jot the list down in your planner or create an Excel spreadsheet, be sure to write down relevant information for each contact. This may include his or her name, place of employment, date and location of your first meeting, and any other relevant information. This organization will help you maintain a relationship with your contacts in the future.
- Keep up on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to engage with professional contacts – it’s what the website is made for! When sending a professional an invitation to connect, consider adding a personalized message that shows you were engaged in your initial encounter. This will show the professional that you genuinely value his or her connection. Also, be sure to check on what your professional contacts are up to by engaging on their posts and congratulating them on new jobs, work anniversaries, etc. (LinkedIn makes this incredibly simple).
- Share relevant news with them
Have you read a recent news article that reminds you of the work one of your contacts has done? Share it with them! Sending over a relevant news story with your thoughtful analysis is a great way to show your contacts that you’re engaged in the PR sphere and interested in maintaining your relationship with them.
- Schedule face-to-face time
Emails and Twitter conversations are an easy way to digitally keep up with your professional contacts. However, even in 2016, nothing compares to face-to-face interaction. When geography permits, schedule a time to meet up with your professional contact a couple times a year to discuss anything from job search tips to industry current events. Take your contact out to coffee or lunch to ease the “professional” tension. Be sure to prepare what you want to talk about so no one’s time is wasted and you can get the most out of the conversation.
- Thank them for their mentorship
Above all, show your professional contacts that you value your relationship with them. A general rule is to touch base with them three times per year. This can be as simple as sending an email with a quick update on what you’ve been up to and thanking them for any role they may have played. After all, most industry professionals enjoy helping students and recent graduates. Your contacts are most likely just as interested in what you’re up to as you are with what they are.
Keeping in touch with professional contacts provides unparalleled value to young professionals. Most of us students have been making professional connections for years, but these relationships mean nothing if they are not maintained. Consider these tips when keeping up with your professional contacts.
Julia Zinsmeister is the Account Supervisor on the UO Business School Academic Centers account. She is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in German. Upon graduation, she hopes to find a job working in international media and communications. Outside of school and work she enjoys drinking coffee and playing really old guitars