Posts Tagged ‘mentoring’

Networking: Keeping Contacts as a New Professional

Monday, February 24th, 2014
flickr user klynslis under CC BY license

flickr user klynslis under CC BY license

You studied hard, joined PRSSA, did multiple internships, networked, graduated, networked some more and got a job. Phew! Now, you no longer have to worry about your LinkedIn activity, participate in that Twitter chat or attend local industry events, right? Wrong!

In case you haven’t already figured it out, the PR industry is like a big small-town. There aren’t six degrees of separation, in many cases there are barely three. It seems everyone knows everyone (or knows someone who knows someone). This tight-knittedness is capable of swinging the pendulum in your favor–or not. The choice, really, is yours.

How do you hold on to that network you’ve worked so hard to build? How do you continue to build that network, and make it work for you?

1. My first suggestion is to not just attend your PRSA chapter meetings, but volunteer and get involved. As current president of the PRSA-St. Louis Chapter, I can tell you that having new pros on our committees are just as important as having senior pros. You provide a different perspective, and we need all viewpoints represented. In addition, You will work side-by-side with seasoned pros, who will get to know your solid work ethic first-hand and meet people you may have not have had access to otherwise. Volunteering is work, and creates work experience.

2. Participate in Twitter chats. Not just #NPPRSA, but other industry-related chats, such as #PRprochat started by Carrie Morgan, or the #SoloPR chat spearheaded by Kellye Crane. Not only may you meet your next recruit, but many senior pros participate in those chats as well. Doing this keeps you in front of your network, expands your network, and may even provide informational content you can later expand into a blog post!

3. Join applicable LinkedIn groups and participate in the discussions. Don’t feel like you can’t contribute if you don’t know the answers–ask questions, there may be others with the same question.

4. I’m sure you have certain industry-leading blogs to which you subscribe. Don’t just read those posts, comment and reply to other comments. Add value to the community. Warning: be careful to not over-do it; you don’t want to comes across as a stalker.

5. Finally, swinging back to #1 – involvement in your local PR organization. You should at least set a goal of attending one event per quarter (4 per year).  And don’t just attend; make a point of introducing yourself to at least three new people at each event. Then, within a couple days of the event, connect with them on LinkedIn—reminding them where you met and thanking them for the conversation, then follow-up. The follow-up doesn’t have to be often but does need to be pertinent and professional.

A case in point: a while back I wrote a post on mentoring for BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog. In it, I mentioned that Lori George Billingsley, director of issues communications at The Coca-Cola Company and past PRSA Multicultural Communications Section chair, claims her mentor has been instrumental in helping her secure all of the PR jobs she’s held.  That’s a pretty powerful testament to her networking, diligence and professionalism!

There’s no doubt that social media makes it much easier to keep in touch with people. However, no matter how much you keep in touch electronically, nothing beats face-to-face conversations to build your network!

Share what you’re doing to build and strengthen your network in the comments below.

This post originally appeared on the blog PRNewPros.

PR Industry Conferences: Connecting, Networking, Mentoring

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Like many of you, I attended the 2012 PRSA International Conference (as well as PRSSA—student conference) in San Francisco.  Since returning, I’ve been following many blog posts on what PR professionals (and students) learned and took away from the myriad sessions offered.  However, one post really struck me and I’d like to expand on it.

Shonali Burke posted to her Waxing Unlyrical blog that she believes the true value of these conferences has more to do with connecting and networking.  She says:

“The point is in collectively sharing, and participating in, and learning about, and growing our industry together.”  “The point is in relating to each other as people, and not just as ‘networkers,’ or ‘prospects’.  Because when we take the time to get to know the people behind the prospects, we learn what makes each other tick. We’re able to help each other out, even if there’s nothing in it for us.”

She goes on to say:

“And though we may not walk away with new business signed and sealed, I can guarantee you that the people we take the time to connect with – because we genuinely like and respect them, or we were just being nice – will remember us when someone asks for a referral, or has a job opening.”

I personally, met nearly 20 people in real life that I previously had only known through social media, as well as re-connected with a number of industry leaders that I only get to see that one time of year at a conference. It allows us to solicit feedback on our services related to the PR pros business—to ensure what we are offering is what they need. 

But, I’d like to go even one step further and encourage every PR pro (whether they are a PRSA member or not) to take some additional time and invest in the future of our profession by offering to mentor young pros or about-to-be pros (students).  Your practical guidance can complement their education, sharpening their focus on their career goals and helping them develop the professional and interpersonal skills they’ll need as they navigate the real-world. Students need your help, advice and friendship as they evolve into tomorrow’s public relations leaders. 

There is also the benefit of reverse mentoring. Ken Jacobs, principal at Jacobs Communications Consulting, recently talked about reverse mentoring in a BurrellesLuce webinar, “Managing, Motivating, and Leading Millennials,” which is available for download, by clicking the link. Your mentee very well may help you learn more about yourself and other generations.  They know things you may not and can teach you new job-specific skills. After all, we know that in this profession we never stop learning! Mentoring may even give your organization an edge when it comes to recruitment, as well as help making you a more effective manager.

The time to start investing in your mentoring relationships is now.  Are you ready? Please share your mentoring success stories here on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog.

Mentoring: A New Year’s Challenge

Monday, December 19th, 2011

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchill

Flickr Image: arielmeow

I’ve written about being a public relations mentor in the past, but it’s been a while. Mentoring is something I’m passionate about so I’d like to challenge each and every communications person (PR, advertising, marketing, etc.) reading this to do ONE thing in the New Year that supports our next generation of pros.

Before you start with the “I’m too busy” excuses, let me clarify what I mean. Looking at Wikipedia, “mentorship” refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. It goes on to describe “mentoring” as a process that always involves communication and is relationship based, but its precise definition is elusive. I’m partial to John C. Crosby’s definition, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”  What this means to me is that you do not have to be part of a formal mentorship program to accomplish this!

Formally, I am a Champions for PRSSA PRSA section member, a PRSSA mentor through my local PRSA chapter’s program, as well as professional advisor to my alma mater’s PRSSA chapter. However, informally, I help scads of students and young pros via social media (mainly Twitter and LinkedIn).  Mother Teresa said, “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person”—sounds like pretty good marching orders to me!  

I know some believe there are specific core competencies required for being a mentor, such as coaching, counseling, teaching, acting as role model, championing career development. While these are valid elements of mentoring, I propose that you don’t have to be or do it all to help shape the future of our profession. The effort you put forth can be something as easy as answering a quick question, reviewing a résumé or advising on portfolio pieces. And, frequently I find that it’s a two-way street. You might just learn something yourself.

Does your PRSA chapter have a mentoring program? Why did you become a mentor? Did you have a mentor yourself? What did you learn from them?

Emerging PR Leaders, Who Is The Next Person To Watch?

Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Flickr Image: ecstaticist

Flickr Image: ecstaticist

Who are the current leaders in the PR industry? You may know of them or you follow their Twitter feeds or ask to connect with them on LinkedIn and Facebook. Perhaps you may even know them in “real-life.” But do you know who will be the up-and-coming, new PR leaders? Who will be the next “person to follow” in the PR industry?

When you mentor students, you have an opportunity to meet these new leaders. Arik Hanson recently wrote about going back to his alma mater, Winona State University, for Pro Am Day. It’s a way for PR professionals to share their experiences and offer advice to students. My colleague, Tressa Robins, also attended St. Louis PRSA Pro Am Day, and discussed the event here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Twitter discussions are another great way for PR folks of different levels to discuss issues and find who’s fast becoming a rising star. Heather Whaling, @prTini, leads the #PR20 conversation on Tuesday nights. She recently blogged about pros you might not know, but should.

And she isn’t the only one drawing attention to emerging PR leaders. For the past 20 years, Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) has honored a female leader in the Washington PR industry. This year, the organization is looking to honor three emerging leaders on June 15, 2010. Although there are several criteria, in a recent informal poll, respondents felt the main quality of an emerging leader was “innovation.” It will be interesting to see how the honorees exhibit this quality.

“In today’s industry, there are many emerging leaders in the field – intelligent, budding PR leaders and creative practitioners. It is important to recognize these innovative communications professionals as knowledge experts and up-and-coming leaders in their chosen fields,” says Lauren Lawson, media relations manager at Goodwill International and past president, WWPR. “By motivating and inspiring these young leaders, you will help to grow and hone the skills of these communications professionals.”

Do you know an innovative young PR professional? How will you help promote them?

Being a Public Relations Mentor

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Mentoring is an opportunity to pay it forward. Seventy percent of jobs are found through networking, according to a BusinessWeek article.  Lori George Billingsley, director of issues communications at The Coca-Cola Company and past PRSA multicultural communications section chair, claims her mentor of 18 years has been instrumental in helping her secure all of the PR jobs she’s held.  PRSSA has gone as far as dedicating an entire month (October) as being PRSA-PRSSA Relationship Month to encourage mentor-protégé relationships between the professional and student societies.

In researching being a PR mentor, I found quite a bit of good information on how to find a public relations mentor, where to find a mentor, and finding the right mentor; however, I wasn’t able to find much on being a PR mentor. 

Let’s face it, we’re all doing twice as much with half as much time these days (or at least it seems that way). So why should you invest the time to mentor?  Here are my three reasons for becoming a mentor:

  • Good way to learn.  I’m not necessarily talking about “reverse mentoring,” but it may be as simple (and enlightening) as discovering a new slant on an old strategy, method, or practice. Furthermore, you’ll encounter your protégé’s world and take away that experience. You may even learn something about yourself in the process.
  • Expand your network. Many of us work in non-traditional work settings these days, participate in webinars versus group meetings, and generally have less face-time together. Whether you work in a traditional office setting or not, mentoring is a great way to expand your reach. Your protégé today may be a hiring manager or client tomorrow.
  • Return the favor. “Pay it forward.” “Share the wealth.” However you want to phrase it, it just plain feels good to help others. When you mentor, you leave a legacy of sorts – your work ethic, character, experience, and even your professional personality are instilled into your mentee. 

Still believe you don’t have time to be a mentor? Then, how about participating in social media conversations or participating in Twitter chats such as #PRStudChat, #u30pro, #journchat, or #solopr just to name a few. Arik Hanson thinks this sort of “virtual mentoring” is the wave of the future per his recent vlog post over at The Spinks blog.  BurrelleLuce’s own Valerie Simon agrees, commenting “While there is certainly an important value in that old school (one-to-one, face-to-face) mentor/mentee relationship, virtual mentoring offers an important opportunity to gain access to a broad gamut of leaders.”

I’m eager to hear about your mentor relationships and thoughts.