PR Training

The Importance of Networking Outside the Office

The most important thing I do in my business is pay very close attention whenever I speak with a Media Relations Master.

They come in many packages, each with his or her own personality and background. But I’ve come to notice certain things they all tend to say. They often don’t realize that these seemingly tiny habits are key to their consistent success.

One such throwaway line I heard a Media Relations Master say recently was, “I just make sure I get out of my office and go out and visit with people.”

And I realized I’d heard the same thing from many others: “I get out of my office.” (Or “… my cube.”)

What do they do with this “out of office” time? They might:

  • Sit in on meetings of other departments — nothing to share, no announcements to make.
  • Find different people to sit with in the cafeteria or casually plop down with someone in a break room for a few minutes.
  • Attend some kind of exhibition or presentation of successes, even if it’s after hours.
  • Ask for a one-on-one meeting for 30 minutes “to get oriented to the great work your team is doing.”

However, if you’re a contractor, telecommuter or agency worker, then getting “out of the office” may not be possible. I asked this Media Relations Master about that because she came up through big New York City agencies. She said to work even harder to get face time in, even if it’s only on FaceTime. If you can’t drive over and do sit-down meetings with people beyond the client contact, ask for video conferences. “Make yourself an indispensable part of their team,” she said.

You can’t view this approach as yielding immediate results — you’ll quit too early. But when you do it consistently over a few months, the time you invested starts multiplying and coming back to you in spades. You start to get these kinds of benefits:

  • You suddenly have two dozen “reporters” sprinkled throughout the organization that are tipping you off to interesting customers, cool human interest angles and extraordinary employee achievement.
  • You start getting a heads up on a special or potentially controversial tip BEFORE it happens, rather than continually finding out too late to steer the communications around it.
  • Peers and even bosses start respecting the value of public relations more and asking more for your input.

Back to this particular Media Relations Master conversation. After we hung up with each other, she forwarded me an email she received while we’d been speaking. It was from one of the other directors at the company and the subject line was a person’s name. It said, “Today I met this [customer]. I know you’re looking for interesting back stories.”

Don’t let any distractions or obstacles keep you from the high-leverage activities that may lead to emails like this.

Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch”. 

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Michael Smart

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