By: Nikki Mikolon
This year at the PRSSA National Conference, Bridget Coffing and Mike Fernandez from the Living Legends panel spoke about the importance of relationships. Not only the professional relationships we gain from networking, but also our personal relationships. In the grand scheme of things, there is not much of a difference between the two. Good professional relationships will turn into personal ones and those personal relationships will benefit us more than we would expect.
The key message here is the idea of building meaningful relationships. During the panel, Fernandez said, “There is something to be said about nurturing relationships.” This is one hundred percent spot on. It is hard to think of anything more beneficial than taking care of, and working on the relationships fostered throughout life.
On Dec. 2, 2016, EMU PRSSA’s annual Student Development Conference took place, setting the perfect example of building meaningful relationships. This year’s theme was media relations. The conference included a keynote speaker, a media relations specialist panel and a creative storytelling workshop.
It can be difficult to brainstorm ideas and execute the proper planning that goes into this conference, including invitations, social media, awareness and the logistics of event planning, such as venue, catering, and so much more.
One of the most difficult parts about planning a conference is not only getting people to attend, but to also get speakers to take time out of their busy schedules to speak in front of students and attendees.
Being a college student myself with minimal “experience” or connections to professionals in the field, it may have seemed impossible at the time. However, it was not.
The conference reminded us how important networking is and maintaining the relationships with the people you have connected with professionally or not.
The first step to taking advantage of your network is to sit down and think about all the people you have met on a professional level. The second step is to reach out. Ask how they are doing, and perhaps remind them where you last worked with or saw them. They are likely to remember you or at least recognize your name. Another piece of good advice was given to us at National Conference from the Intern Queen, Lauren Berger. Berger said that it is important to maintain the professional relationships we gathered throughout our various experiences and to reach out to our connections three times a year. Now, three times a year is a lot, but it does emphasize how important it is to keep in contact with our network. By keeping up with these connections, they are less likely to forget you, making them more likely to help you when you need something like a speaker, letter of recommendation, advice or even a job.
Many of the speakers that came to SDC were from my own or others’ professional networks. Having connections to professionals in the field made this part of the planning easier. I have kept up with some of these relationships I have made along the way through PRSSA, college courses and internships. Through nurturing some of these professional relationships, Ruth Lednicer and Matt Lee, two SDC panelists were able to come and share their knowledge and wisdom about media relations with students at the conference. Stephen Kurily, EMU alumnus, was also a connection I made and kept up with in order to maintain a healthy relationship. Following SDC, I made several new connections by working closely with these professionals over several months.
In closing, remember that in life, both personally and professionally, it is important to “network” or foster meaningful relationships and to nurture them over time.
Nikki Mikolon is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing. As a Detroit native, she hopes to spend her beginning years working for the city and being a part of its renaissance. Connect with Nikki on Twitter @nikkimikolon.