Making (and Keeping) Authentic Connections


By, Kara Stephens

We all know successful PR is all about building connections, whether it be with clients, journalists, or the audiences we strive to reach.   While the importance of building new connections is paramount to what we do, taking the time to nurture existing connections to keep them strong and fruitful is equally important.

Recently, while attending the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) meeting in New Orleans with several of my Pascale team members, it occurred to me that these meetings – while always somewhat of a reunion – offer the chance to reconnect face-to-face with clients, editors, and colleagues, strengthening and deepening the invaluable relationships that drive our PR successes.

Three days after returning home from AAO, I attended a local event, BioAustin’s BioBash, a networking gathering of life sciences professionals from the Austin area. It was my first event with BioAustin, and I found myself in a sea of unfamiliar faces  – and lots of opportunities to create new professional connections.

In both of these situations, and many others, I have found several strategies that have helped me build authentic, lasting connections:

  • Find common ground. Whether it’s a love of dogs, a recent travel destination, or a TV show you both watch, find a way to connect with people outside of work-related conversation. There are so many things that people love talking about, and finding a passion or interest you have in common opens the door to a deeper level of connection that goes beyond business.

  • Be authentic. For the first few years of my career, I approached business networking from behind a mask, trying to emulate my superiors and what I’d seen on TV. Once I realized that it was completely possible to be professional while also being true to myself, I found that building relationships was much easier and resulted in much longer-lasting connections.

  • Abandon ulterior motives. We’ve all been there – someone approaches you at an event, only to immediately launch into a sales pitch that really isn’t even relevant to what you do. It’s pretty obvious to most people when they are being approached with only one goal in mind – making a sale. Entering into conversations with a single objective of furthering your own business agenda is usually ineffective when it comes to building real professional relationships; focus on getting to know people first, business second.

  • Listen. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen. Ask questions, engage, but also take the time to truly hear what others are telling you, whether it is directly relevant to you and your business goals or not. People can tell when they are really being listened to, and feeling heard can go a long way in developing relationships.

At Pascale, we understand the importance of a connection that goes beyond emails and conference calls. Taking the time to develop authentic connections allows us to be true partners with our clients, driving a real understanding of their products, companies, and the healthcare industry as a whole.

Erin LaFavor