Personal branding and networking go hand in hand. You need to network in order to build professional connections, and these connections rely on your personal brand to build trust and hone in on your intentions.
Patrick Sitkins, author of Brand Aid, stresses the importance of increasing professionals in your networks on social media in his post, Don’t Make These 5 Personal Branding Mistakes. By taking the initiative to expand your network, you demonstrate your drive to connect with other professionals. Your networking ambitions will show in your personal brand.
Promoting Your Brand Online
Quality control on your personal brand when networking is a must. Ensure that digital representations of yourself are keeping an authentic you. Google yourself. Do you find an accurate representation? Many try to build our online presence completely off of social networks, but these platforms severely limit your potential to showcase yourself and your brand. Instead of just getting by on social media, create a strong online presence with your own website on Squarespace. With your own domain and choice of template, your personal brand will seriously stand out online.
As always, when networking, be cautious with what you post, comment, retweet, and like online. Lida Citroen, author of Landmines to Avoid When Building Your Personal Brand advises you use basic etiquette online: use LinkedIn and Google+ as your professional sites, while Facebook can be more personal. However, no matter what site you’re posting on, avoid complaining or badmouthing others. All of your profiles are a part of your personal brand, and their online presence should be a collective representation of you at your best.
Representing Your Brand In Person
Virtual representations of yourself online are just one aspect of networking. Never underestimate the power of how you carry yourself in person: this is how you represent yourself in your truest form.
Whether you’re at a get-together, a mixer, or a networking event, make an effort to put yourself out there. Avoid the tendency of cling to familiar faces – instead, separate yourself from friends and make an effort to meet others. With eye contact, confidence, and a strong handshake, don’t hesitate to share your personal brand. An easy way to break the ice is to ask how they heard about the event or to bring up a relevant news story. Go beyond your personal branding statement and be authentic. Strive to make a real and meaningful connection. This will make you more memorable when meeting many new faces and will take your networking to the next level.
Citroen advises you direct the conversation both ways. While you’re there to promote yourself and build your brand, don’t dominate the conversation. Be sure to ask your acquaintance about themselves so you can build the relationship and strengthen your network. This will allow you to identify your interests, goals, and how you could potentially mutually benefit each other.
The final and essential step to networking is to follow-up with your new connections in a timely fashion. Infuse your personal brand in an email, in which you remind your acquaintance of your interests, career goals, and conversation from the encounter. Briefly suggest how the connection could be beneficial, and propose a meeting or phone call to further discuss your ideas.
What are your go-to approaches to personal branding and networking? Start the conversation and leave a comment below.