The digital age transformed how we communicate with each other in the business world and in our communities. Each mixer our team attends in the San Joaquin Valley broadens our perspective on how we interact with each one of our fellow human beings. The tradition of business card exchange is still the formal introduction along with a greeting and a handshake, but it is the follow up conversations that solidify a trust with each individual. In school we were taught about social media as part of the tool kit in our overall Public Relations toolbox. Every public relations professional has one, but it isn’t a physical box that you can look at with the eye.
The toolbox is the skill set of each individual professional out in the field. Public speaking, writing, teamwork, presentation, respect, integrity, ethics, compassion, honesty, sincerity, honor and loyalty are just a few of those attributes that public relations professional should aspire to follow. The public relation professional does use everyday tools like a pad, pen, phone and laptop, but the “toolbox” houses the most important skills gathered through experience and abilities. I recently had the pleasure of running into my former professor at Kinko’s during my copy spree run and he suggested I add photography to the good old “PR toolbox.” The skillset is something you always built on as you learn from others around you, whether it is through a group meeting or a conversation with a more experienced individual.
The digital age allows us to connect almost instantly to individuals and express our interests and appreciation after the initial introductions. Text messages or Facebook messenger are not informal ways to express how great you felt the interaction went between two individuals. By making an instant connection, you show others how much you valued that experience and lay the groundwork for building a better relationship. Relationships don’t happen over night and you always need to work at them to make everyone around you feel like they are important to you.
It could happen at a moments notice over a 32-minute phone conversation with someone you just met. Taking the steps to follow up with someone, just to express how great it was to meet him or her means more than you think. Throughout our conversation in meetings, opportunities always present themselves and if you recognize them, be sure to act on them. A critical decision you make in that moment shows others around you that you value their time and conversation when making those business decisions. If business partners perceive a CEO to engage with them one way, but notice a drastic change in their demeanor during the next interaction, they will re-evaluate the relationship before making key decisions. The extra effort you put forward to follow up with them now paves the way for great things down the road.