Networking is an essential part of being an apprentice, but for obvious reasons this year has made it difficult. In this blog, I hope to provide an apprentice’s insight into virtual networking, sharing my own top tips for making the most of online opportunities.
1) Maximise socials
One top tip for virtual networking is to ensure that you regularly use social media. This is often where the start of virtual networking takes place. LinkedIn specifically is a useful tool to network no matter which stage of your career you may be. One specific learning which I picked up from my training as an apprentice is to message the person you are connecting with straight away. By making introductions early, you are more likely to be able to build up your network than be a forgotten contact.
2) Once you are there, maximise your activity and participate in discussions
My second top tip is to engage and participate in discussions. LinkedIn again provides a perfect space to join groups. I am part of various apprentice groups where you can network with other apprentices. These groups can provide areas to discuss, learn and interact with others.
3) Make sure to take any further opportunities to speak to other apprentices
As an apprentice, it is essential that you take every opportunity given to you. I recently attended the PRCA National Conference, and this virtual event offered plenty of chances to network. At the event we were randomly paired with another person and we had to network with one another for two minutes. The timed, speed-dating format made networking as an apprentice less daunting. I have also attended a PRCA virtual apprenticeship networking event. It was really nice to talk and engage with other apprentices on the same course, as it allows you to share your experiences while others share theirs. In my experience, virtual networking events have worked incredibly well, exceeding all my expectations. While it can be difficult to read body language over video cameras, once the initial awkward period was over, people seem comfortable talking and sharing ideas.
Networking is a vital tool, especially for someone who is just starting their journey in PR. Although the pandemic has made face-to-face networking impossible at this time, there are lots of innovative ways to meet with other professionals. It’s a vital part of a PR apprentice’s journey to continue to do so.