Vacation is a “serious” undertaking for Margaret (my wife) and me. For the past several years, we’ve been going to Taipei, Taiwan, and basically becoming “temporary residents.”
Comfortable apartment in a thriving neighborhood with all the amenities…restaurants, grocery and drug stores, drycleaner, and subway connection.
I quickly settle into my routine each year…breakfast up the street where I relax for close to an hour with my coffee, fresh-baked bread, and morning newspaper (for which I contribute an article each year)….but we also plan and do a boatload of new and exciting things each year…excursions by train out of Taipei to other cities, a dozen or more new restaurants of all types, museum visits…you name it.
I also try to schedule one or two meetings with local folks…communication professionals, university professors…to find out what’s new and exciting here. This year was dinner with a now-new friend, Jimmy Chuang, Senior Chief Editor for “Want China Times,” an online publication that provides news and information about things that are happening in Mainland China that could (or should) be of interest to folks in Taiwan and elsewhere.
I met Jimmy through another colleague, Jerry Gibbs, a fellow Communication professor at Curry College who heads up our Television Concentration and has of late been our department chair. Jerry and Jimmy were classmates at American University and have remained friends over the years. In addition, Jimmy’s wife, Fiona Kuo, is a Boston University alumna and her aunt has a restaurant in Concord, Mass…talk about a rapidly-shrinking world!!
So what’s this all about?
“Networking”…expanding your horizons by reaching out to and connecting with others…people who have a direct connection with your line of work…people who, directly or indirectly, might be a useful resource at some point in the future…people who simply are interesting and you want to get to know.
Networking, something I write/teach/preach about constantly (my PR Concentration students would say probably too constantly!), is part and parcel of the public relations profession in my opinion. Meeting new people, establishing and nourishing relationships…all are integral to successful public relations practice.
People trust people they know.
In today’s hyper-connected world where the Internet and social media have made it possible to communicate with and crosscheck information with others around the world and instantly, that level of trust becomes even more important. And you, as the public relations professional charged with communicating on behalf of a client or employer, need to be able to keep your finger on the proverbial “pulse” of that client’s or employer’s image and reputation.
By building and constantly adding to your network, you develop an “early-warning system” of resources who you can turn to for advice, for guidance, and for a greatly-appreciated “heads-up” when an issue is starting to simmer and possibly hasn’t hit your own radar screen yet.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a one-way street, though. You should be doing exactly the same for them.
So a quick bit of advice as you make your vacation plans…ask people you already know if they know anyone you could or should get in touch with while you’re in a particular area. Then reach out and see if you can schedule a quick meeting over coffee (or other fermented beverages!) while you’re in their neck of the woods.
Add to your network. Expand your horizons…expand your resources!
“The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud,
These become part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.” – Walt Whitman, “There Was a Child Went Forth”