When we meet someone, especially in a professional setting, we tend to think of them in that context. That goes for clients, media, vendors, partners…they fit into a nice compartment in our mind.
A roofer does roofs. A sports reporter writes about sports. A gardener creates gardens.
It’s very helpful to fill in that blank “Job Title” section of our address book.
But what someone DOES is not who they ARE. And knowing who someone IS is much more important in the long run…and can completely enrich your life.
As I write this, it is Father’s Day here in the United States (shout outs to all my non-USA readers!). Think about the gift you got for your father. Was it related to what he DOES or who he IS?
I like to call it the DOES/IS Wall.
My dad is a middle-school teacher. And I got him two CDs he’s (hopefully!) never heard before because he loves to explore new music.
We don’t look at it in the DOES/IS context because we should know who our family members are as people…which is 100% correct. However, we should all take some time to eliminate that barrier with a few people in our lives every week.
Here are a few tips for PR Pros to eliminate DOES/IS Walls:
1) Weekend Chatter - As you start a pitch call early in the week, ask a reporter if they had a good weekend…or, conversely, late in the week, ask if they have any exciting weekend plans.
2) Get Away From the Beat – See if reporters have blogs or other free-form outlets to see if you can learn a little more about who they are. Remember, a beat isn’t always a passion…sometimes it’s a paycheck, and they may not always be on that assignment.
3) Lunch It Up - Have lunch with as many people in your office as possible all the time. Learn about the fascinating people you sit 10 feet from! You’ll find common interests and can bounce client ideas off each other.
4) Be Chatty - Chat up people around you, from bank tellers, subway seatmates, street vendors…be friendly, ask them a few questions about themselves. Will this help professionally? Who knows. But connecting with other people, expanding your network NEVER, EVER hurts.
5) Man/Woman in the Mirror – On the flip side, be open about yourself. In order to receive information, you have to be willing to dish it out, as well. You’ll find great satisfaction in creating a closer connection to people in your network.
As the digital age rolls on, we have an opportunity to know so many other people in ways that we previously only knew our family and closest friends. Take advantage of them, PR pros. Smash down the DOES/IS Wall, engage those around you and enrich your network. I can’t promise it will lead to one more article or a new business lead, but it’s definitely worth the investment.
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