Networking is an integral part of the public relations industry. Knowing other professionals within your industry can grant you access to job opportunities, get your name out in the field, or help you meet friends who understand what you do for a living. With that said, networking was difficult before the pandemic hit our world early last March. Getting the courage to ask someone for coffee, messaging a connection on LinkedIn, and emailing acquaintances at work was already nerve-wracking. Now, it may seem even more daunting. In this blog, I will discuss the best ways to network in a pandemic world. 

Enhance Your Socials

It’s a good idea, especially in a virtual world, to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date, accurate, and professional. A resource from LinkedIn gives you 20 tips to improve your profile. Let potential employers know that you are interested in opportunities they may have to offer. It helps to make sure all of your social profiles shine with professionalism, not just your LinkedIn. In a time when everyone is searching for a job, making yourself stand out as a dedicated professional will help other pros want to connect with you. 

Virtual Coffee Dates

While we may not be able to have in-person coffee dates, Zoom helps us meet virtually and safely to connect with anyone anywhere. Scroll through your connections on LinkedIn and message one for a virtual coffee to share what’s going on in each other’s lives, your industry, and to ask about any opportunities they may know of to help you get your foot in the door. Most established professionals are more than happy to help if you are professional and respectful of their time. Be wary of Zoom burnout though, which can be common in the era of digital. Here is a resource for some tips on combating Zoom fatigue!

Talk to Strangers

The only time I will ever tell you to talk to strangers is when I say it’s not a bad idea to connect with professionals on LinkedIn that you may not know in person. By doing this, you are expanding your network across states or even countries. To get your conversation started, this resource is incredibly helpful. The more connections you have, the more opportunities available to you! 

Get Involved

If you have the opportunity, get involved with your local professional organization. For those in public relations, your local PRSSA/PRSA chapter will have virtual networking opportunities available to you. Joining these organizations usually allows for cross-chapter networking and opportunities to virtually meet professionals out-of-state. It’s a great way to connect with other professionals in the chapter and out of the chapter. 

Whatever way you choose to network during this uncertain time, remember that anything you do is better than nothing. Networking doesn’t have to be perfect, and neither do you.

Kayla Brown is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying advertising and public relations. She currently serves as the Vice President of Operations for GrandPR, is a Lead Consultant and Social Media Manager at Grand Valley’s Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors, and interns for GVSU Development as a project manager and communications writer. She plans to attend graduate school to further her studies after working in the field for a few years.

Twitter: @kaybrownpr!