Laura Cropper is one of those Toronto transplants, now living in Vancouver. (There seem to be a lot of them, hey?) Well, she has certainly had her share of work experience, and knows how to work the room like a professional. She also has some ideas for the type of people who don’t love schmoozing at cocktail parties.
Prior to opening Story PR in 2014, Laura honed her skills for more than eight years at global and boutique firms, based in Toronto and Vancouver. Her clients benefit from a “best of both worlds” approach – the polish, scope, strategic expertise, and expert execution of a corporate agency; combined with the taste level, creativity, and nimbleness of a boutique.
We asked Laura some of our favourite networking questions, and here’s what she had to say.
Q: How and where did you form your most significant contacts? How have these changed over time?
The PR industry is surprisingly small, and relationships that you form as early as PR school can end up being extremely valuable. I’m sure this is true of many industries, and particularly in a relatively small city like Vancouver. My advice is: actively maintain relationships with people you meet throughout your career; you never know how your paths will cross. A classmate could turn out to be a client; a fellow intern could end up being your business partner ten years down the road; and the recent graduate who asks you for career advice could end up being an executive at a partner agency. All of these are real-life examples that I have experienced.
Q: What does networking look like in your world? What are some of your top tips for successfully networking in this city?
Make the effort. You have to put yourself out there. If it is something that tends to fall by the wayside, set a goal for yourself – number of events to attend, or coffee meetings that you set up in a given time period.
Be authentic. Be true to yourself in the approach you take. Some people can own a room at a cocktail mixer, while others find these types of events painfully awkward. There are tons of ways to network and make connections, so find out what works best for you and play to your strengths. Also, be authentic in forming relationships. Don’t just think about what someone can do for you, but rather connect genuinely. Think less about elevator pitching yourself to everyone you meet (though it is important to have one!), and show an honest interest in others by listening, asking questions, and really engaging in conversation.
Do good work. Always strive to do your best. People want to be associated with others who provide a quality service or product.
Be nice. People want to do business with people that they like. Whether that s a business owner deciding to award a contract, a supplier who is willing to go the extra mile, or an associate who refers your services – it always pays to treat others well and to have a reputation for being “good people”.
Q: What advice do you have for the Vancouver woman who is just starting out in her career or considering a leap to a new career?
I’m fortunate that I figured out what I was passionate about while I was still in school, pursued it, and continue to work in my career of choice today. I know it has been said before but, truly, if you can zero in on what you are passionate about, the more likely you are to be happy and successful professionally. That doesn’t mean you have to know right away, but don’t stick with something because of money, expectation, time you’ve already put in, etc. We spend so much of our time working, if you can find what you love doing, it will be so much more enjoyable.
This sounds like advice from a seasoned professional. Being in the public relations industry means making quality connections and nurturing those relationships–and it’s obvious Laura knows how to do it.
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