The Detroit chapters of PRSA and the Black Public Relations Society recently hosted their second jointly-sponsored mixer at the Gamer’s Gallery in Hamtramck to bring their members together for fun and networking. Lisa Peers, chair of PRSA Detroit’s Diversity Committee, and Janeal Garry, member of the Black Public Relations Society, Detroit Chapter, are now Beaumont Health colleagues after meeting for the first time at last year’s mixer. Here, they talk about the value of these events:
Lisa (LP): Let’s think way back to 2017. Why did you decide to go to the PRSA/BPRS mixer?
Janeal (JG): As a newcomer in the industry, I realized the key to meeting the tastemakers was to immerse myself and network as much as possible. I hoped I could meet someone who would take a look at my resume and see that with a little fine tuning, I would make a great communications professional.
LP: Last year, I had three open positions on my team and knew I needed to meet more communications professionals from outside my circle. I wanted to bring in a diverse group of candidates who could bring unique talents and experiences to the table.
JG: I learned from a colleague that you would be there, Lisa, so I made it my mission to make a lasting connection that would ultimately land me the opportunity I wanted. Prior to the mixer, I researched your role at Beaumont Health. I knew you were hiring – meaning you could make a decision that could change the trajectory of my life.
LP: You make me sound all-powerful – it was more important that you came prepared. I appreciate that you’d done your homework about Beaumont and my team’s focus before we met. It was great to be introduced in a social context first; it made the formal interview process a lot less awkward and stuffy.
JG: Yeah, the research I did could have been considered stalking. I used the PRSA/BPRS networking event to get to know you better and show you I was a candidate worth considering.
LP: And it worked!
JG: I landed a Communications Assistant position about six months later.
LP: Now we know each other well enough that I don’t mind that you beat me at Connect Four three games in a row at this year’s mixer at Gamer’s Gallery.
JG: Really? You don’t mind? You keep bringing it up.
LP: Anyway … do you have advice for people looking for jobs, especially if they are just starting their communications careers?
JG: I have four takeaways:
- Growth and opportunity dwell in discomfort. Get out of your comfort zone and meet people. It can be scary at first and eventually it gets easier.
- Networking is the key, and the art of follow up is the door.
- Rejection is redirection. Hearing “no” shouldn’t be cause to give up and throw in the towel. Use every experience as a learning tool.
- Be patient.
LP: Those are so true. I’d add the following:
- Seek out opportunities to expand your network. Volunteer for events, serve on a committee outside of your department, and, of course, attend events sponsored by professional societies like PRSA and BPRS.
- If you’re an established pro, make yourself available for informational interviews, coffee dates or telephone check-ins with people looking to make their next move. You get to know who’s out there when you need to hire – and they can return the favor when you need to make a move yourself.
- If you get business contact information at a networking event, follow up with a brief email or note within the next two days. (That’s the follow-up door Janeal mentions above.)
- Remember that networking benefits both sides. In my acting days, when I was nervous about auditioning, I remembered that good directors were hoping I’d be the one to solve their casting problem. I was in a position to help them as much as they could help me.
We are grateful to PRSA Detroit and the National Black Public Relations Society Detroit Chapter for bridging the gap for many professionals and supporting diverse professionals at all stages of their careers.