Public relations professionals hear it time and time again – attending networking events is an important part of having a PR job. Networking allows you to meet peers, influential thought leaders and even future clients. Yet, many find that the hardest part of networking is figuring out how to start.
I recently found myself having this struggle – I wanted to attend more networking events but wasn’t sure how to go about it. With a wide array of events to choose from throughout Washington, DC, it can be overwhelming to find which events are best.
Ultimately, I decided to focus on a series of events that cater to not only something I find interesting, but also relates to the focus areas of the clients I work with. With Nextgov’s Tech & Tequila Meet Up series, which consists of three events with panel sessions featuring technology and industry experts, I was able to get over the hump that is becoming a seasoned networker.
Here are the biggest takeaways I learned:
1. Introduce Yourself
The point of going to networking events isn’t just for the free food and drinks, it’s also to meet new people who work in a similar field as you – or even share your interests. Making a point to introduce yourself to others at the event is the best way to get yourself known. If I recognized somebody from one of Nextgov’s previous Tech & Tequila meet ups, I made sure to say “hello” and engage in a follow-up conversation. It’s an easy way to put your name out there.
2. Learn Something New
Working with clients in the same niche, such as technology, enables PR pros to become experts on certain topics. As most of my day-to-day work centers around B2B technology clients, I find it most interesting to hear about those working with these vendors or in a way I’ve never heard of before – something that networking events with expert panels are perfect at providing. This also helps me to approach client messaging, pitches or media campaigns with new angles we may have never thought of previously.
The most memorable thing I’ve learned from Nextgov’s Tech & Tequila meet up series came from the panel on next-gen cyber warriors. As I read almost daily about a data breach in my morning news scans, I was fascinated to hear from a speaker who is using her cybersecurity knowledge to fight ISIS hackers. It was amazing to hear a different side of cybersecurity and how her skills are being used to help the government. It’s a story I wouldn’t have known without attending the event.
3. Share the knowledge
Lastly, it’s important to remember to make it known that you were at the event with the use of social media. Live tweeting pictures and quotes, along with the event’s hashtag, is a great way to get involved with the conversation. Soon, you’ll see retweets and favorites from some of the event speakers or other thought leaders. I even gained some new followers and helped build out my own personal network!
As the Nextgov’s current Tech & Tequila event series is coming to an end, I am on the lookout for new networking events to attend. What are some of your favorite groups to network with in your city?
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