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Published on November 26, 2020

9 Tips on How To Network the Right Way

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9 Tips on How To Network the Right Way

We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s all about who you know” in regards to landing a job. This really isn’t an exaggeration when it comes to the job market. Having the right connection can make all the difference between “you’re hired” and chirping crickets.

Studies suggest that 70 percent of jobs are never advertised on job classifieds and 80 percent of positions are filled because somebody knew somebody.[1] That’s right, a connection is paramount if you want to get your foot in the door and secure that dream job you’ve had your eye on.

When it comes to making those connections and learning about the unannounced job roles, networking is the key to the castle. Sure, credentials are still important, but if a person knows how to network the right way, they have an advantage that will be of serious benefit throughout their professional lives.

Before we jump into how to network the right way, it would be beneficial to spend a moment talking about what not to do. Avoid the mistake of only networking when you need a job. Reaching out to network only when you need something won’t help foster a genuine connection and gives off the stench of desperation. Networking should be about building mutually beneficial relationships, not self-serving ones.

Alright, let’s dive into how to go about developing a networking strategy that’s about more than collecting business cards and LinkedIn connects.

1. Make a List of Who You Already Know

There’s a real good chance that you already know a lot more people than you think. One of the best ways to network and expand your connections is by reconnecting with those you already know. Scroll through your social media feeds and jot down those folks that you maybe haven’t spoken to in a while.

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A few circles to consider:

  • Past jobs
  • Old friends from college
  • Church acquaintances
  • Hobby groups or sports league teammates

The idea here is to start with who you already know — particularly those that may be in or have connections to your career field. Even if it’s somebody that you haven’t spoken to in years, add them to the list. Casting a wide net is better than a single line here.

2. Reach Out to Those Established Connections

Now’s when you simply want to reach out to some of these connections. Something as simple as a quick email asking how they’ve been and what they’ve been up to is a great way to get started.

Blasting off an email or text to somebody you haven’t spoken to in six years might feel awkward, but don’t let that deter you. You should trust that they’ll probably enjoy hearing from you and catching up.

It’s not just about who you know, but who they know as well. Set aside your pride and ask if they know anybody in your related field they could introduce you to. Remember, the people you know are your allies when it comes to expanding your network and building new professional relationships.

3. Listen and Learn

Expanding and building a network of strong networking connections involves a mindset that’s focused on listening and learning.[2] Whether you’ve emailed a connection that an old work colleague gave you, or you’re making small talk with a stranger at a business conference, an eagerness to learn goes a long way. It shows you have a natural interest in the other person and what they do.

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If the person is working in the field that you’re trying to break into, now’s your time to come with a few questions regarding what their role looks like or any advice they might have regarding the field. You should be listening twice as much as you’re speaking.

4 Look for How You Can Be Useful

It’s easy to think of networking as a way of getting something for yourself, but that’s not the goal here. The goal is to build new relationships. It’s out of those that opportunities come along.

A good mindset to have in networking is to think about how you might be able to contribute or add value — without the expectation of something in return. It’s just this sort of mind flip that can make a big difference.

You may know somebody who is perfect for a role their company is looking to fill, but how you add value may not even be career-related. For example, perhaps during your conversation, they mention a love of biking and you know somebody who runs a cycling hobbyist group. Put that out there! It’s those sorts of interactions that lay the groundwork for building relationships.

5. Put Your Successes Out There

There’s a good possibility that at some point during networking, somebody is going to ask about what it is you do. This is your chance to share just what it is that’s so special about you, so be ready. Share what you’ve done in the past and why you’re passionate about your chosen field or the field you’d like to be in.

You’ll probably want to keep this relatively short, a few sentences or 90 seconds should suffice. If they want to know more, they’ll certainly ask.

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6. Expand Your Potential Networking Horizons

Scroll through your mental rolodex of people you know for a second. You probably know at least one person who is always doing something with one group or another, right? And this person probably knows everybody and their cousin, right? Well, there’s a good reason for that — they put themselves out there.

Networking mixers are fine, but they can also be counterproductive and feel more like business card trading events. Joining professional or civic groups can be a fantastic way of meeting new people, as can volunteering or various hobbyist groups.

Even if the event or group isn’t business-related, there’s still value in making and building upon new connections.

7. Don’t Just Scroll LinkedIn, Be Active

LinkedIn was built for networking, but a lot of us are probably guilty of not making the most of it. Not to worry, there’s an easy fix for this, it just means getting off your digital butt and getting active.

Rather than simply scrolling your feed, engage with the content you see. Like it, share it, comment on it — and add your own content. This could be an article you really enjoyed, a professional milestone, or simply an observation about an aspect of your industry.

You don’t need to get obsessive about engaging with a connection’s content on LinkedIn, but by regularly doing so, you’ll slowly build a familiarity with one another. Check out this article and learn how to network on LinkedIn: How to Network on LinkedIn (6 Dos and Don’ts)

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8. Follow up and Nurture Those Connections

People aren’t sitting around thinking about ways they can offer you a great job. You have to present the possibility for that to happen and this means staying in touch with networking connections.

If you recently met somebody at an event, through another contact or simply connected on LinkedIn, a good rule of thumb is to send an email or text a day or two later. It doesn’t need to be anything complicated, simply “enjoyed meeting you” or “thanks for the advice” will work.

Take the time to occasionally touch base and maintain this new connection, but be patient. Remember, networking the right way is about organically fostering a professional relationship.

9. Make Everyday Networking Part of Your Life

There’s no reason to wait for a big networking event, there are opportunities to network, build, and strengthen connections all the time.

Make it a goal for yourself to reach out to a few of those old LinkedIn contacts that you haven’t spoken to since you connected with them five years ago. Chat with your neighbors and the guy or gal who makes your morning cup of coffee. And do it over and over again.

Adopting the mindset of making everyday networking a part of your life will eventually make it feel like second nature!

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More Networking Tips

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan via unsplash.com

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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