Being a young professional in the public relations industry is so exciting! And yet, kind of scary at the same time. There’s a lot to juggle and unfortunately, your Communications 102 course didn’t cover networking. Here’s some advice for millennials looking to grow their career in the PR industry.
Utilize all of LinkedIn
You probably made a LinkedIn when you were in college and it’s been collecting dust for a few years. Well, brush off that dust, look up your password and log back in.
- Add descriptions and job titles for previous work experience
- Include college and high school internships as well as volunteer work
- List job duties, responsibilities, achievements, projects, and instances where you went above and beyond your job description. Include work samples and show off projects.
- Write articles on LinkedIn. This asserts your expertise on a topic, will be displayed at the top of your profile and shows you’re participating and adding content to the LinkedIn community.
- Endorse skills and write recommendations for co-workers and people you’ve worked with in the past. What goes around comes around, as the great Justin Timberlake once said.
- Update your Headline and keep in mind LinkedIn’s algorithm uses these keywords.
- Write a summary that stands out from the crowd, avoids jargon and cliché’s and reflects who you are. Have some fun with it.
- Use a professional profile photo that is a nice headshot that doesn’t look like it came straight from Instagram. Sorry Mayfair filter, you don’t belong on LinkedIn.
- Participate in LinkedIn by Liking and Commenting on articles in your news feed. But, keep in mind, your entire network will be able to see what you like and comment on. With great power comes great responsibility.
Participate in Industry Groups
Connect with individuals who share your passion for PR in your community. Look at the websites of groups like American Marketing Association (AMA), American Advertising Federation (AAF), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) or other related groups in your area. These groups are great for staying up to date on industry trends and networking.
- Sign up for their email newsletters
- Attend their events to learn more about what they do and who they are
- Consider investing in a yearly membership
- Get involved by joining a committee
- Stay up to date with PR industry trends by subscribing to relevant email newsletters and reading trade magazines.
Networking doesn’t have to be work
Sometimes the word networking can make introverts want to pull the covers over their heads. Re-frame the word by thinking about networking as making new friends and just keeping in touch with them.
· You can meet people to network with anywhere, not just at specified networking events. A great place to meet new people is through volunteering at local events like fairs or festivals.
· Most people will be happy to sit down with you and offer their perspective and advice. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and will be flattered you asked.
· Offer to grab coffee with someone you’d like to get to know more. Come prepared by looking at their LinkedIn profile beforehand and jotting down some relevant questions. Pay for their coffee and respect their time by keeping it under an hour.
· Take time to nurture relationships and make a commitment to go outside your comfort zone to get to know new people. It’s okay to talk about non-work related topics and this can even help you find things you have in common.
Keep it Professional or Private
Potential employers will likely search your online presence and don’t want to see your drunk tweets. Take time to clean up your online presence.
· Google your name and see what links and photos come up. Clean up the less than flattering content.
· Make your social media platforms private if you have any questionable content.
· Be aware of how you carry yourself online and try to keep it professional as much as possible.
Be Proud of Your Work
Humility is an admirable trait, except when it comes to job interviews and portfolios.
· Keep track of your successful projects, campaigns, and works by adding them to your LinkedIn or portfolio.
· Maintain a personal website that showcases who you are as a PR Professional, your resume or skills, contact info and most importantly, your work samples or portfolio.
· When chatting with others in the industry, it’s okay to give yourself some props and mention a successful campaign you managed. Mentioning an achievement once is not the same as bragging. Hogging the conversation and only talking about how great you are is bragging.
Have a Side Hustle
As a young professional, it can be hard to get the necessary experience. If you’re starting out, consider offering up your skills and expertise to small organizations or charities.
· This is a great way to increase your portfolio, learn other skills, meet new people and increase your value to an employer
· Reach out to local non-profits or small businesses and offer to write press releases, plan events, create graphics, help boost their social media presence, etc.
· Be realistic about how much time you have to commit to a side hustle. Do you have the necessary time to help this organization on evenings and weekends?
· Make sure it doesn’t interfere with your current position and your company allows it.
· Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you have to work for free. Stand up for yourself and ask to be reasonably compensated.
Wow, that was a lot. It’s okay not to do everything all at once and expect perfection. Don’t compare yourself to where other young professionals are in their career. Focus on improving yourself and learning new skills. Good luck on your journey and always be yourself!