Networking Tips and Etiquette

Hofstra’s chapter of PRSSA will be hosting its 4th annual Networking Dinner on

Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7:00 p.m.

Networking Dinner is an excellent opportunity for Hofstra students to connect to PR professionals on a more personal level. Professionals attending the dinner will include: Jessica Bellucci from Pix 11, Stephanie Golden from The Lippin Group, Erin Maestas from The Knot, Michelle Betrock from the Food Network, Jill Weiskopf from New York Magazine, and many more. All professionals will be invited to share a few words about what they do and will then be able to mingle with students.

For any PR student looking for an internship, or just more information about a particular branch of PR, this event is a must!

It is essential to not only be able to network but be able to walk into any situation and confidently begin a conversation with anyone in the room. As the saying goes, it’s not always what you know but who you know.

Andrew Weich, a PR and Social Media Coordinator, provides some good tips on the Comet Branding Blog http://cometbranding.com/blog/.

1. Hang up and Live.

First of all, put your phone away. “Hang up and Live.” My good friend Vince always preaches this to me when we are together in social settings. I know,  sounds hypocritical for me to tell people to put their phone away when I catch myself disobeying this rule. I often find that my phone can be a crutch at a networking event. Instead of forcing myself to talk with someone, I’ll just whip out the ol’ Droid from my pocket and check my email, Twitter and Facebook. Then I think to myself, “How can I expect to engage with other attendees if I’m glued to my phone the whole time?”

The phone doesn’t have be turned off or left in the car, but be conscious of how other guests perceive you. I’m less likely to walk up to someone and spark up a conversation if all they are doing is staring at their phone. Even in this TweetUp/MeetUp/Web2.0 world we live in, we still need to be aware of our surroundings and make the right impression.

Prepare your Elevator Pitch

Typically the first question someone asks you after finding out your name is “what do you do?” It’s a pretty basic question, but sometimes can cause a lot of people to trip up.  Before you enter a networking event, quickly practice your elevator speech to yourself. How do you want these potential professional contacts to see you? Make sure it’s not too long — just some quick facts about who you are and what you do, which will hopefully open up into more conversations.

The eyes are the windows to the soul

My high school theater director told me this quote in terms of engaging with the audience, but the same concept can be applied to a networking setting. Non-verbal communication cues are very important in a social atmosphere and I believe the eyes take the cake. We can say so much with our eyes alone, so maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to, smile, be engaged in the conversation and see where you can contribute.

Speak up!

This is one tip I usually have the hardest time with. Being a young professional in a networking setting, I often just try to blend in the background and listen, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but shouldn’t always be the case. When in a discussion, feel free to speak up. Show your smarts and contribute to the conversation. During my college career, I had a professor with an outstanding business record that would always say teaching had opened his eyes to so many possibilities. Although young professionals might not have all the experience, we still have some pretty cool ideas so don’t be afraid to share and contribute.

Melissa has read several articles about networking etiquette from various business professionals and websites. Each article she’s read more or less said the same thing. Here’s the consensus:

Pay attention to social cues

Although you may have intentions of discussing business, your prospective contact may have been looking forward to some down time. If you infringe on certain topics the other person is not interested in talking about, you are risking losing what may be a valuable contact to you in your future. Be sure to gauge what mood the person is in, or perhaps warm up with basic topics of interest so you may eventually ease the conversation into what you intended to talk to the person about.

Dress to impress

Networking isn’t always at a ready set time and place. You could find potential contacts at a bar, restaurant, or even in line for popcorn at the movie theaters. Therefore, make sure you are always in clothes that flatters you in a composed way. But don’t feel inhibited if you aren’t dressed your best when you run into a potential contact; your best outfit is a genuine smile and confidence. Basically, you want to make sure “your visual message matches your verbal message” as Aviva Shiff says in her article on Sideroad, a website that gives “Practical Advice Straight from the Experts”.

Set a goal

Why are you networking? Is it because you’d like to learn from people involved with certain industries? Is it because you think you’ve designed the next form of social media?  Be sure to mingle genuinely with everyone, but setting a goal such as “I’d like to walk out tonight with 5 business cards” will not only give you more drive, it will help you avoid sitting at the bar or table where you may not meet as many people compared to if you were up and about.

Master small talk

Easiest way to do this? Research, research, research!!! Read newspapers, books, listen to different kinds of music. Basically, you want to have a well-rounded basis of information. You never know what sort of interests people will have. Challenge yourself to be able to find common ground with everyone you meet.

Follow-through

Networking is all about building relationships. It goes beyond a conversation. Be sure to shoot a follow-up e-mail or call, either about meeting up at another event, congratulating he or she on a latest accomplishment, or even sending information on topics that you were discussing.


The bottom line is that networking is self-promoting and personal branding. Look and talk the way that you want to be seen and heard. Show interest while others are speaking and actually try to develop relationships.

Alissa Crist, Freshman, Public Relations Major

Melissa Louis-Jacques, Junior, Music Merchandising Major with Public Relations Minor