Public relations is all about networking and knowing the right people. But simply knowing the right people won’t get you very far. Sure you may know the CEO of a major agency, but if given the chance to actually have a five-minute conversation with them, would you know what to say?
Most employers would agree that they can make their mind up about you within about 30 seconds, that’s why you’re encouraged at a young age to have an elevator speech – a 30 second bit about yourself and how you could benefit the company. If you capture their attention, you’ll most likely get a face to face interview for an internship or maybe even a possible job.
During my college career, I’ve had several amazing opportunities to meet some extremely successful pr professionals throughout the nation. And because of my education and ambition, I’ve been able to create and sustain connections with them. How do you ask? Well, I have a great elevator speech and I ask the right questions.
Asking questions and listening to what they have to say is sometimes even more important than an elevator speech. The right question shows that you: 1) are interested in their company and their work, 2) have done your research and 3) are willing to listen (yes sometimes its better to listen than to talk!) Remember your last job interview when they asked if you had any questions at the end? They do this to see if you’ve done any research regarding the company and the position your applying for. It also helps them to judge the type of employee you would be. If you ask about 4-5 researched and thought over questions, you’ll more than likely be seen as someone who would excel in the job force.
I always have pr related questions in the back of my mind just in case I have a chance meeting with a professional I have not yet met. But the other day, one of my pr professors, who works for a motorsports company, told me that if I could come up with an interesting question about auto racing, I’d be on my way to the next race in New York. Yes I’ve always enjoyed watching motorsports, but how could I possibly come up with the one question that his company would deem “the one?” Thankfully, with his help, I submitted the right question and got an all expenses paid trip to New York.
So next time you’re sitting on your couch watching your favorite television show, grab a notepad and brainstorm about five intelligent questions that you could ask any pr professional if you were to bump into them. And while you’re at it, practice that elevator speech too! Who knows, one of those questions may help you land the job of your dreams (or send you on a plane to New York)!