Whether you’re paving the way for your children at the school PTA; looking to climb the corporate ladder or simply taking your business to the next level; rest assured there is only one weapon that you need in your prosperity arsenal.
No its not another degree; pair of Jimmy Choos or an IPAD but the simplest, most powerful human technique that has survived every new management and leadership theory over time. Networking!
There is no better activity to turn your aspirational dreams from mere thoughts to an action inspired reality!
There is no excuse not to create and implement your own networking strategy for success. Networking makes no exception for the shy, slow or stupid when it comes to getting what you want out of life. There are no excuses for not understanding the power of effective networking in today’s fast paced, image led world.
This month I am going to share my top 3 tips about taking the fear out of networking and getting what you want out of life.
1. Brand You!
Branding is simply about communication. It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t have to be complicated. The more creative you are about how you get ‘your’ message out there, the more effective and believe it or not, fun it will be. It’s important to understand that you are sending the right message out about yourself and that means taking control of every aspect of BRAND YOU! Firstly, people buy people and they need to be confident that you are the person who will be able to provide the right solution for the issue that they are facing at any given time. Whether it’s someone to organise the local charity fete; departmental move or revamping a new house – you need to be seen as the ‘go to’ person. Therefore, its important that the brand you create and deliver brings top of the mind recognition to all your stakeholders for all the right reasons.
Personal branding means that if you want people to take you seriously your brand needs to send out a clear and consistent message about your skills, experience and personality. Communication is 7% words; 38% tonality and 55% physiology – so how you look has never been more important. There are no excuses not make sure you look well groomed, professional and are socialising in the circles that will help to take you to the next level of your career or business. Be informed about your topic area, understand the latest trends and can articulate your point of view in a clear, professional manner (in line with the culture of your sector). No point coming across as a flower power, 70s throwback spiritual hippy if you are at a banking conference – save that for the weekend! Don’t blur lines! Model your behaviour on those who are the most successful in your chosen sector to ensure that you are heading in the right direction until you master your own unique and authentic brand.
2. Social Media
There is no escaping social media. I know, I know, I know ……….. not enough time, i haven’t got anything to say, what is the benefit? Only someone thinking about career or business suicide would not take time out of their day to invest in this area of their professional and personal development. For the bare minimum you should be signed up to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter! Social media networking provides you with a broader landscape and more creative way to connect and communicate with people. Stop hiding behind the fears and taboos of networking. Believe me it’s all about building and reinforcing your ‘presence’ to a wider group of people who you would never have had access to. Branding through social media networks gives you more control and power over your prospects than you can achieve face to face – so upload your profile! You can fine tune how people see you, you can share your wisdom and knowledge about a particular area of expertise and build virtual networks with people who may help to further your career or business through contacts, leads, recommendations and more importantly referrals. So if you are looking for an inexpensive way to communicate to a wide and diverse audience then social networking provides deeper relationships; an opportunity to share and exchange news and more importantly expand BRAND YOU!
3. Practice, practice, practice
I don’t care what anyone says but one of the most important rules of networking is to remember that it’s a two way process.
You’ve heard it everywhere – master your 30 second verbal pitch because you only have a very short time to get across to someone who you are, what you do and what you have to help them before they move on or event contemplate taking your business card.
You can also gain valuable experience by joining a networking association in order to brush up your networking skills as you unleash BRAND YOU! I believe this is a great way to meet people in your sector who will support your career and business goals.
Another way to fine tune your networking skills is to volunteer. Whether it’s becoming a member of a committee, organising events, providing bespoke services, etc. The important thing is to volunteer for something that interests and inspires you – this will lead you to other like-minded people because the wider your circle the more meaningful and genuine relationships you will build with people.
Remember I said networking is a two way process; so not only is it about getting something for yourself but also think about what you can do for someone else. Whether its sending them tips, a good article you have seen or a lead that could help them – do it! This is what makes your network relationships more genuine and authentic because there is nothing worse than someone who abuses their contacts with an ‘only me’ attitude.
In closing, whether you are a novice or seasoned professional don’t be afraid to get out there and take your network up a notch, no matter how daunting it appears! The benefits are too numerous and advantageous to discard. Develop your brand, devise a strategy and take action with the will and desire to achieve at all costs. Understand you will make mistakes, but as long as you acting with genuine integrity you will pick yourself up and bounce back in no time as you focus on your aspirational goals. Not only is networking a tried and tested powerful tool; it is a critical skill if you wish to achieve success in anything you do in life because people MATTER!