Events and Networking
Networking is an essential part of life that all professionals must learn to leverage to increase the visibility of their personal brands and succeed in their careers.
Whether you are a job seeker pursuing your next opportunity, a salesperson identifying new clients or customers or an entrepreneur looking for a partner, effective networking is what will separate your brand from the rest.
Here are a number of networking strategies you can leverage to enhance your personal brand presence and even become known as a thought leader:
Informational interviews are an extremely effective way to pursue a job opportunity in your company, industry or functional area of interest, as well as just to network your personal brand with target contacts in your industry.
To get started, reach out to your current network for their contacts within your area of interest. If your current network does not have access to anyone in this area or industry, consider using LinkedIn as a networking tool for identifying new target contacts. You can start by just searching keywords in the People search on LinkedIn. You can also join LinkedIn Groups which will help you increased messaging access to your fellow members. You can also use the Companies directory to identify companies and professionals in your industries of interest to whom you can send an email and/or LinkedIn message requesting an informational phone interview.
NOTE: As a job seeker, never ask them for a job, simply to ask them to talk about themselves. If you’re a salesperson, don’t ask for them to consider buying your products or services in the beginning, just ask them if they have a few minutes to talk. In these conversations, you naturally will have the opportunity to talk about yourself and your brand, and it’s these opportunities that allow you to make a connection and share your candidacy or offerings whatever the case may be.
Associations & Networking Groups
If you can, join a local or national networking group or industry-related association. This obviously gives you some new credentials to post on your resume or social networking profiles, but now gives you a common connection to a number of different professionals in your area of interest, as well as access to events and opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Make sure to attend and participate in any of the events offered, especially in-person ones where you can get some solid face-to-face time with your target contacts. If your interest motivates you and your schedule permits, volunteer for leadership opportunities to get your name and personal brand out in front of a larger audience.
Consider coordinating your own events, workshops and conferences and/or becoming a speaker for organizations, universities and conferences. This will build up your own experience and credentials, but also will help you become a thought leader in your industry. This isn’t always simple. It involves planning the event and/or developing the program, determine the location/logistics and/or reaching out to potential speaker hosts, and inviting attendees and executing a marketing campaign.
While you can definitely pursue in-person events and speaking opportunities, more and more people are turning to the web and phone as more efficient portals through which to reach larger numbers of people. Perhaps, you can start a live online radio show, schedule a teleconference, host a webinar or record podcasts to offer via your blog or other networks. Either way, experiment with new ways to offer your unique value to others until you find some channels that work for you.