By Deanna Tomaselli and Catherine Clements
Young Pros Co-Chairs
No matter where you are in your career, networking is a crucial skill. It can help you gain industry insights, make connections, learn about organizations, develop references and referrals and build your brand. The stakes are low and the upside is high.
Though, the challenge is most traditional paths of connecting have been postponed, canceled or completely reimagined. Coffees, lunches and happy hours must be more purposefully planned over Zoom or phone calls. It’s not as easy as swinging by a PRSA Off the Clock happy hour on your way home. Instead, we have to actively seek out virtual ways to network.
Given this challenge, and the adjustments and balance of work from home life, it can be easy to let something like networking fall to the back burner. Though, given the unknowns of this year, now is a more important time than ever to strengthen your network. Plus, many seasoned professionals will tell you, “nurture your network when you don’t need one.”
Now, how can you make virtual networking valuable? PRSA Young Professionals sat down with some of Pittsburgh’s best-networked pros to share their insights on how you can maximize your efforts, including:
- Martin Black, Associate Director, Alumni Career Networks, Center for Career Development, Duquesne University
- Renee Davis, Director, University Recruiting at Duolingo
- Bryan Iams, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing, and Government and Community Affairs at PPG Industries
- Cherie Boushell, Manager, Employer Brand at Highmark Health
- Emily Bezak, Founder, Emily Bezak Writes
#1 Be a Detective
Look at people who hold a job you’re interested in. Take notes on their “about” section, activity, education and experience. Look for commonalities and use this as fodder for your outreach.
#2 Bring People to You
Ensure your LinkedIn profile is complete with a headshot, headline, “about” summary and overview of your experience. You want to ensure the right people–like recruiters–can find your profile. Additionally, consider how your content can help you stand out. Are you sharing your perspective on the latest trend? Highlighting key takeaways from your latest read? These are all great ways to connect and add value for your connections.
#3 Go Where the People Are
Consider what platforms people in your field are most active. It may be LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram or even Clubhouse or Reddit. Whatever your avenue, be present, post routinely and engage with others.
#4 Connect with the Right Contact
Instead of reaching out to a recruiter, try finding someone with the role or a similar role you’re looking to land. Set up a 15-minute informational chat to learn more about the position. Taking this time to connect can build your credibility within the organization and help your resume stand out.
#5 Don’t Fear the Cold Ask
Warm up to your connections first by reading their content or making endorsements and insightful comments. Be clear in what you’re asking and what the time commitment will be. Prepare by doing research and developing a question set ahead of time.
Remember, networking is a level playing field. We each have something to give and something to get to help grow ourselves and others.
Looking to build your virtual community? Join the PRSA Young Professionals Facebook Group.