After more than 30 years in public relations and communications, I have seen lots of changes. What hasn’t changed, thankfully, is the value of relationships. With professional stints in several US cities working with clients throughout the US I’ve met some people and maintained friendships throughout the country.
I regularly have people ask why it’s so important to me to keep in touch with these folks. Quite simply, it’s important because…they’re important. Even after all these years we are there for each other.
Later this month I’m traveling to Philadelphia for the Public Relations Society of America conference. This professional development conference is an annual investment in funds, time and friendships. I also learn something. What I’m terribly excited about, though, is my stop on the way home. I’ll be attending, as a guest, the International Foodservice Editorial Conference in Portland, OR. You see I was chair of this group in 1991 when I moved to Alaska. Thanks to social networks, it has become even easier to get in touch with these folks. It will be exciting to see everyone and catch up on our personal lives…oh and our professional achievements.
Lots of thank you notes will be written after these trips. You see, these are also important to show people your appreciation for their friendship, their time and their caring.
Oftentimes today, I work with young people, or a few not so young, interested in careers in communications or wanting to reach out to a new city. They’re looking for an introduction and I’m happy to do it for them because my friends and I love to welcome new people. But there are some rules:
Follow-up with the introduction
Send a thank you note – a handwritten one – afterward
Be genuine and know what you want
In addition to working with new pros, I also often try to put professionals together whose skills might enhance each other’s expertise. Again it’s something I really enjoy doing, especially when things work well and good work ensues. I’ve done this many ways but lately it seems only one way is working and that’s unfortunate.
From where I sit, running a busy strategic communications firm of my own, I would prefer to offer one party the information and suggestion to contact another. It takes me a bit more time to write an introduction for both of them and it’s really up to each party to make this happen. What I’ve noticed lately, though, is often the outreach is ignored even when the connection is explained. Often, there’s no thank you from either party even though the connection has not only been made but there’s also work being done. Yet the rules (see above bullets) are the same as they are for young professional introductions and career help.
It really doesn’t take long to write a thank you email. (It takes a bit longer to write a thank you note, but the impact is exponentially greater.) If you don’t take the time to build YOUR network it’s really tough to expect so much from someone else’s.
I think my next post will focus on how to build and maintain those networks. Any successful techniques you use?