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  • Writer's pictureTyler Duclos

My Experience in Networking as an MSUM Student

Hello! My name is Tyler Duclos, I'm an advertising and public relations major at MSUM and I am also a member of Flypaper and PRSSA on campus. Through this major and those organizations, I have had many different opportunities to network with people within the industry and PR professionals. I have learned some of the best ways to network and also things to avoid while networking with people who can be a connection and a potential boss. The main amount of experience I got was from attending the national PRSA conference in Bloomington. This opportunity came through PRSSA and it was a two day event of speakers and meeting and networking sessions with PR professionals. When it comes to that experience, I'll say going into the first day I was pretty nervous, which is totally normal by the way. I have been in professional situations before but not really like this. I remember us going into the meeting area and being a little overwhelmed by the amount of people there, all looking professional and all having their own singular conversations. So when we sat down at our table and told to go off and network, you have no idea where to start. My luck showed when an older man sat down next to me and I shook his hand. This is where I will go into the advice part; when it comes to introducing yourself, you want to feel professional yet accessible. You don’t want to feel closed off, and someone not worth engaging. I know that sounds obvious, but you never know how you can come off to someone. My next piece of advice is to be the one to ask the first question and try to make some connection between you and the person you're talking to. For instance the man I was talking to is named Dave Neuger and he is the CEO of the advertising company, Neuger. So he's a pretty big deal and he just so happened to sit next to me. I made him sure to give him a nice, firm handshake and began establishing connections. We talked about sports and I was able to get him to tell me stories, and tried to let my personality stick.

The next part can be a tight line to walk because you don’t want to over step and become an annoyance. Depending on the length and duration of your event, for example the one I was at was 2 days and numerous hours of the day. You want to stay on your connections’ mind, but you also don’t want to be a pest. You can subtly say hi again right before a speaker, or try to initiate another conversation in between sessions. Maintaining the relationship is key. After the event is over, say your goodbyes and maintain the relationship through LinkedIn or by sending a handwritten note to their place of business. All in all there is no science to networking, only what feels right to you. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, even though it can be daunting. Especially at bigger events because it can be kind of cliquey with business professionals sticking to themselves or with their friends they’ve made through their careers. Be confident and assert yourself while making a good impression. It worked for me, and will end up working for you too.

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