Welcome to Boston! You’ve traveled from near and far to learn from incredible speakers, make memories with old and new friends and expand your professional network. If you didn’t already know, October is also PRSA/PRSSA Relationship Month. The PRSSA National Conference is a great time to connect with PRSA because the PRSA International Conference is happening just down the street! Here are seven tips for connecting with PRSA while at the PRSSA National Conference this October.
The article linked above was written by PRSSA National Professional Adviser Kelly Davis, APR, and includes great tips such as dressing the part and asking for someone’s business card before offering your own. It’s a great, quick read to sharpen your networking skills before you dive in at National Conference.
Be sure to bring business cards and think of questions you want to ask certain speakers. Beyond that, Jo Ann Lesage Nelson, APR, PRSSA National Board Liaison advises students to come prepared with a handful of talking points for quick and easy networking.
“Prepare for meeting new people by having two or three topic ideas you can easily discuss with a stranger; it’s easiest to start with a question that will solicit an opinion and engage the person you’re speaking with,” Lesage Nelson said. “Some ideas: Which keynote speaker has been your favorite at this conference? How long have you been involved in PRSA? What’s the best advice you can give to a student about to enter the field?”
Network with Champions for PRSSA
Rise and shine! Don’t miss the Coffee with Champions on Sunday morning before the Living Legends panel. The Champions for PRSSA, founded in 1981 by Godmother of PRSSA Betsy Plank, APR, Fellow PRSA, are professionals with a special ongoing interest PRSSA, its student members and the public relations education. The Champions are a diverse group of everyone from legends in the industry, to up-and-coming new professionals and former PRSSA members.
Attend the PRSA General Sessions.
Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA and current Board Chair of PRSA encouraged students to not only attend the PRSA General Sessions on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday down the street at the PRSA International Conference, but to sit next to someone new.
“This experience is about building your network and PRSA/PRSSA provide many opportunities to cultivate those connections,” Dvorak said. “Don’t lose out by sitting only with your friends and those you already know. I know it can be intimidating, but I also know that the opportunity outweighs the nerves.”
PRSA General Session speakers include Morgan Spurlock, Bea Arthur, Amy K. Hutchens and Jay Baer.
Attend the New Professionals Panel.
If you want to learn from successful new professionals who know what it’s like to be where you are now, be sure to attend the PRSA New Professionals session on Saturday. These pros all made the leap from student to professional and from PRSSA to PRSA and are now members of the PRSA New Professionals Section. Hear their advice on transitioning to professional life, work/life balance and more!
Take time to absorb and reflect
Conference can be overwhelming so be sure to find some time to unwind and enjoy yourself.
“Give yourself a break at some point in the Conference to explore your surroundings, people watch and just enjoy,” Dvorak said. “It will free your mind and allow you to put the nuggets you’ve learned into retrievable compartments for later use.”
Once you’ve made it back home and have reflected on your time at National Conference, don’t forget to pull out those business cards you collected and follow up with the PRSA professionals you connected with.
“This is the most important step but timing is key,” Davis said. “Professionals have taken several days away from their jobs and families to attend the Conference and they will likely spend the remainder of Conference week in ‘catch up mode.’ Wait about a week to reach out. This is also the more appropriate time to follow up on job opportunities and share your resume.”
Emma Finkbeiner is the PRSSA National Immediate Past President. She is a graduate student studying public relations and advertising at DePaul University and an Integrated Marketing Coordinator for the Chicago Cubs.