Today&s guest blog post is from one of my current campus ambassadors, Neli Tokleh. Neli is a senior at the University of North Texas, majoring in public relations.
So you’ve paid your PRSSA dues and taken a few PR classes…now what? It’s never too late to start applying yourself and making all of this worth something. I went to Washington D.C. for the 2010 National PRSSA Conference, and I knew I had to make this trip one to remember.
When going to these conferences it is important to take a handful of business cards with you. Companies such as VistaPrint.com offer free business cards. It is your responsibility to prepare cards in advance before attending a professional event. It’s more professional to have a card with you than writing out your e-mail on a scratch piece of paper. Also, don’t be afraid to ask professionals, and even students, for their business cards. We’re in PR- we can’t be afraid to talk to people. It may be intimidating to approach them at first. Take a deep breath, prepare to hand them your business card, boldly ask for theirs and flash a big smile. They know you are a student and will usually take some time to talk to you.
When I get home from a trip, I gather the names I’ve collected and look them up on Linked In and Twitter. This is an opportunity to follow up with the students and professionals you’ve met. It’s a chance to engage. Shoot your new contacts a tweet or an email to catch up with them. Recap a conversation you’ve had…or even just a friendly “nice to meet you” comment. I love using Twitter to interact with new people long term and establish connections with them.
Engaging with the pros might lead to internships and jobs in the future. Be sure to take the time to interact with them at conferences, happy hours and other events. Round up some other PR students (and your business cards) and take advantage of what your city has to offer!