On Thursday, April 25th, Toronto’s Young Women of Influence evening series featured one of the city’s “it” people of the PR world, NKPR’s Natasha Koifman, who offered the crowd of YP ladies insight on the art of networking. As the owner and founder of NKPR, Natasha is well known in Toronto (and internationally) as one of the most influential lifestyle public relations professionals in the city. Koifman has built her career through hard work, time commitment, cultivation and, of course, networking (the significance of the networking element was something she didn’t realize until later). She attributes the creation and success of the influential Artists for Peace and Justice, for example, to the blending of her large network with that of Paul Haggis.
The YWOI event series offers a great opportunity for young females interested in networking, socializing and advancing their careers…and this event was no exception. The striking Koifman held the crowd’s attention as she offered valuable insight that was peppered with humour, raw honesty and colourful examples that left a lineup of eager women hoping to talk to her. In terms of networking, Koifman broke it down to five main points:
Connections must not be selfishly forged, but based on mutual respect and admiration, emotional connections and shared values. It’s simple – connect with people who you actually like, not who can offer you something. Koifman advises to pick and choose these people you want to develop relationships with (key word: develop) since they are a reflection of you. Acknowledging that things have changed due to social media, Koifman began to form relationships with media early, when she would send notes to writers, commenting on their articles that resonated with her. There was nothing contrived about it. This is how she formed a relationship with Deirdre Kelly from the National Post, who is now one of her close friends. In prepping for the talk, when Koifman asked Kelly what makes her a good networker, she replied “people often pitch a story, but with you it was always more about me than you.” Koifman reiterated this point; it must be about the other person and you should generally be interested in shared values, not who they are and what they do. What they do could change tomorrow, after all. She compared it to finding “Mr. Right” – you must think larger than the short-term goals. Authenticity is more than a buzzword. In short, work with people you like and if it doesn’t feel right, it is probably not.
Koifman is quick to point out that networking isn’t only about being outgoing and social. Don’t let it take over from actually working. Reputations in this city are fragile and you must deliver results. Hard work and a proven track record for success does not go unnoticed. For example, while in university, Koifman had a job at the popular boutique chain Mendocino. Two decades later, she was hired to do their PR, as she was told she was one of the best salespeople they ever had, knew the brand, and would obviously be the best fit for a PR person on the coveted account. This is proof that hard work, in everything from jobs to what you did in your twenties comes full circle. She advises to keep focused on the work and end result and never to let money motivate decisions – you’ll get there.
It All Comes Full Circle
Don’t have a short attention span or think of things in terms of short-term goals and immediate gratification when it comes to networking. What goes around in your early career comes around. Koifman referenced one of her first and biggest clients, CIBC, and the fact that she feared NKPR’s future when the company’s sponsorship team broke down. Instead, she grew her company three times as large in a year. This was largely through connections fostered in everything from personal outreach, to social events and sitting on boards. In terms of CIBC, she found that many of the former employees have found their way back into her professional circle today due to the mutually respectful working relationships formed a decade ago. “Pick and choose clients and connections, you can’t be looking for a quick return only,” says Koifman. A person who isn’t immediately strategic may be more strategic down the road. Just like relationships, sometimes the timing simply is not right at the moment.
Be Willing to Share Your Network
Don’t be selfish with your network. Give back to the network and give back to people who have helped you. Just like strategic and brand alignment when it comes to public relations initiatives, people can be connected. A good networker is able to connect all the dots, share relationships and use combined networks to propel each other forward. She advises to share “great clients, positive people, and positive goals with others.” Again, what goes around comes around.
From the start of her discussion, Koifman advises to be cautious when it comes to social media. “LinkedIn, like a Rolodex, means nothing but that you have their contact info,” she says. “The more connected we are, the less of a connection we have.” You need to be able to learn to use and leverage social media effectively. Through your online presence, she says, you need to provide valuable content, and it needs to be true to you. Don’t try too hard, and use it to express and explore your interests and to share with people who share your interests. She reminds us that, with social media, you are a brand, and to think in terms of how you want the public to see you. Things can come back to haunt you. Again, it all comes full circle. Your network is only as strong and connected as you are. See full article>>