By: Olivia Windorf (@o_windy)
During October 18 through the 22nd, twelve GV PRSSA members will be packing up and flying to San Diego, CA for the 2019 PRSSA International Conference (PRSSAIC). The conference, happening in the Golden State of PR, will feature over 20 different sessions. Think: networking like crazy.
As a PRSSA member who’s attending for the first time, I’ve been creating lists and plans to prepare for the trip. Since I’ll be traveling from MI to CA on an airplane, there are definitely things to consider before taking off.
What to bring?
Think business casual. Or, whatever you’d be most comfortable wearing to a networking event. You’ll be meeting tons of other students and getting to know employers so it’s important to look professional. For me, I’m bringing staple pieces that I can dress up or down, depending on what’s going on that day. My favorite blazer will definitely be making the trip with me as well.
Also, be sure to connect with your roommates and find out who’s bringing what. Especially for things like hair straighteners or curling irons; those are things that can be shared and will save you some room in your luggage.
How to prepare for networking with employers?
Networking is one of those skills that is not usually taught, but all young professionals are expected to build a network! It sounds scarier than it is; remember, professionals, are just people, too. No one is born a natural networker. If you’re feeling like you need to sharpen those networking skills, I have a few tricks that can help.
When it comes to the basics of networking, start with your mindset. Going to an event with a positive attitude, confidence, and an elevator speech ready to go are a few things to keep in mind. Having a confident mindset and genuinely being curious about the individual you’re speaking with is going to provide excellent results. You’ll want to leave a positive impression by making the other person feel important and heard. Be interested, but don’t try too hard. Think of your greatest achievements in public relations so far whether it’s from internships, school, or on-campus organizations. Do a little reflecting to think of what you will want to highlight most about yourself prior to the trip.
Set a goal for yourself before attending a PRSSAIC session. For me, I hope to leave each session having made two strong, meaningful connections. This might mean you’ve secured a few business cards, scored a couple of new LinkedIn connections, or planned a future meeting.
It can also be helpful to bring a wingman along! A friend that has similar interests to you and that shares the same goals of networking can be a valuable asset to have during the conference sessions. Hanging out with a friend that you’re comfortable with while meeting professionals can help if you are new to the networking scene and need a little ego boost from a pal.
But most importantly – have fun. While networking at a conference like PRSSA will definitely push you out of your comfort zone, it will shape you into a well-rounded professional and can lead to some amazing opportunities and fantastic people. San Diego, here we come!
Olivia is a senior studying advertising and public relations with a minor in writing. This is her first year as a PRSSA member and she’s been having so much fun meeting other members! She’s also serving on Eboard as VP of Fundraising – can’t wait to learn more from PRSSAIC! In her future, she hopes to continue exploring the nonprofit world. She loves McDonalds coke, hanging downtown with friends, and her cat George.