So you’re off to an agency tour. You’re going to spend the day getting a behind the scenes look at the day-to-day of an agency where you hope to work one day. Agency tours are a great way to pick the brains of people active in the PR industry, ask for advice and network, but how do you take full advantage of this opportunity? Here are five great tips for making the most out of an agency tour or any other networking event.
1.) Bring resumes or business cards: It sounds simple and if you manage to make a strong impression it may not seem necessary, but chances are a lot of people there are going to make a strong impression. Having a copy of your resume or business card can help you stand out from the crowd. Agency life can be hectic and the second you walk out that door the calm PR pros you met moments before could be scrambling in crisis mode for the next day or week. They may completely forget about the college student who they thought would be perfect for their internship program. Having something to remind them like a resume or business card on their desk can’t hurt!
If you’re worried your resume isn’t strong enough most people will be happy to offer some advice. At some point in their PR career, they were in your shoes. It’s important to have multiple people review your resume. If you plan on applying to a particular company someone who has gone through the application process before can be a valuable asset. It may seem like a lot to ask and you don’t want to impose, but if they’ve agreed to invite you into their agency for the day, they’ve already showed they’re willing to take time out of their day to help. Make sure you’re respectful of their time and realize getting back to you will not be at the top of their to do list.
2.) Quality over quantity: It’s better to have one great conversation than five rushed ones. You don’t want to make anyone feel like you’re trying to rush through a conversation with them, just so you can move on to your next target. That being said, be conscious of the fact they want to give everyone who is waiting to speak with them a chance. You can make a bad impression on someone by monopolizing their time. It shows a lack of consideration for your peers.
3.) Ask questions and then ask better questions: There are certain questions asked on every agency tour. “What does a day in the life of a publicist look like?”, “What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?” These questions are fine and they’re a great way to break the ice, however, everyone knows you have other questions you may be hesitant to ask. For example, questions about the internship program, how to succeed as an intern, the hiring process, what qualifications you need to have to be considered, etc. Not only are these questions expected, they show you’re thinking ahead and trying to evaluate whether or not this agency is a good fit for you and vice versa.
Additionally, asking questions related specifically to the agency you’re at show you’ve done your research and make a lasting impression. For example, you should ask about a recent campaign or a specific client.
4.) Send thanks you notes: If you make a connection with someone, don’t wait for them to get back to you. Be proactive and follow up with an email or a simple thank you note, expressing your gratitude for the chance to connect with them and their advice. Follow up emails and cards should be sent within two days of the office tour, as you’ll be fresh in their minds.
5.) Stay in touch: This can seem tedious at times, you’re in college, possibly working part time and trying to build a network so you can find a job when you graduate. If you make a connection with someone and they don’t hear from you until eight months later, when you’re asking for a foot in the door at their company, it may rub them the wrong way. This doesn’t mean you have to email them updates on your life weekly or try to force conversations, it can be as simple as connecting via social media (hint: LinkedIn or Twitter) and occasionally interacting with them.
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