In the public relations career field, as well as in any other profession, learning to network --- and doing so effectively --- is vital.
When I say networking, I'm not referring to the contemporary style of social networking behind a computer screen, in which you merely gain a vague sense of your new contact. Rather, I'm referring to the old-fashioned, face-to-face style of networking. After all, you cannot form a strong relationship with a potential affiliate (be it a journalist, media representative or another professional associate) without actually knowing them.
Here are a few tips that will enable you to network like a pro:
1) Attend networking events - Networking events tailored to your industry (in this case, public relations) are a great method of meeting people, with whom you share common interests, in person.
2) Always keep your business cards handy - No matter whether you're at one of the aforementioned events, on vacation or at the grocery store, you never know who you may run into or meet. With your business card in tow, you'll always be prepared to exchange information in a professional manner.
3) Follow up - Networking is not just about the initial contact; following up is just as important. Send a follow up e-mail, post on their Facebook wall, even call on occasion --- stay in touch. The longer you maintain the relationship with your contact, the stronger and more meaningful your relationship will be.
Though networking may be intimidating at first, ultimately it is highly beneficial. Developing relationships with peers and professionals alike is essential to your overall career goals.