Having a successful career isn’t just about doing well in your job or knowing the market inside-out. In order to reach the next level, you have to build your brand, making yourself both visible and accessible.
One way to build your personal brand is with networking. Creating trusted interpersonal connections can help you gain traction and credibility thanks to the knowledge and opportunities presented by more established influencers.
Use the networking strategies below to generate new contacts and strengthen current ones for the good of your career.
This social media platform was built for professionals of all kinds, and being active on LinkedIn could provie you with opportunities to connect with leaders and similar brands and businesses.
There are multiple features that you can use to connect with others in your industry, like groups. While not all groups are active or even helpful, each one builds a culture of its own. Find one that fits your brand and needs, and where you can also offer help, to make the most of it.
Another tool for increasing brand awareness is LinkedIn Pulse, where you can directly publish your own unique content. This allows you to put your unique ideas and expertise in front of others who might recognize the value of your business insights and add you to their own professional network.
To build sustainable connections, you have to invest in getting to know them. The relationships with staying power are those which develop through a gradual, intentional process that can take months or even years of consistent engaging with one another.
“If you’re going to expect results straightaway, that is not the right approach. In business, the long-term relationship beats the ‘one night stand’ every time,”. Mutual trust forges meaningful partnerships built to endure and evolve, so make an effort to stay in touch, help when possible and maintain that relationship.
Backing away from the computer screen and attending actual events is critical if you want to build your network. While standard networking events are valuable, they can also be stuffy and unfocused.
Make a point of attending networking functions through local businesses and industry chapters of business clubs. This will allow you to meet people relevant, and likely more valuable, for your brand and career.
Don’t forget to check out non-traditional networking opportunities through sites like MeetUp.com, which has a wide variety of groups that host niche mixers for everyone from writing professionals to retired teachers. You can also find specialised career-minded events if you prefer the traditional networking style.
Relationships should not be one-sided. Rather, they should equally benefit each person involved. Before asking for something from a potential contact, consider how you can be of use to them. Offer your services first. Networking should be based on reciprocal relationships, not one-way ones.
Remember that there are many ways to help someone; sometimes, simply connecting someone with a like-minded individual is valuable.
Blogs, social media and other web-based content are effective networking channels, but coming across as self-promotional is not helpful to your personal brand—and can turn potential connections off.
The idea is to serve your contacts, not to continually toot your own horn—at least not all of the time. Instead, produce and share content that’s both valuable and related to your line of work and personal beliefs. Jonathan Long, founder of Market Domination Media, recommends showcasing your human side on social media: how you spent the weekend, what new restaurant you tried or where you’re vacationing this summer. This is likely most relevant on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, where you maintain a more professional presence.
When done tactfully and effectively, networking can take your personal brand to the next level, which in turn can boost your career. Step outside your comfort zone, be intentional about meeting others in the same industry and be of value to your connections whenever possible. It could lead to a relationship that might change the direction of your life.
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