Updated: Mar 23
Ready to take yourself seriously as a brand? You’d be in good company!
According to the Association for Psychology Science, we now only have one-tenth of a second to create a first impression.
Don’t let this stat push you into a corner. A great way to develop a personal brand for your career is to connect with people on the rungs of your career ladder. Networking with professionals in your target market (ideal employers, industry movers and shakers, and purpose partners) can provide you with sweet spot opportunities, life changing insights, and connections that will give you authority of how you want to spend your time. Let’s take a look at how to develop a robust network that can change the trajectory of your career.
First things first, where do you want to go and why? This is where many professionals trip themselves up. Before you start engaging people, you need to know what you need. This will inform, WHO you’ll need. In order to determine who best connects with your brand, you must be clear on where you’re going. Do you know what career season you’re in? What does the top of the career ladder look like for you? What is the ultimate goal you’re trying to achieve in your career? What do you have to offer as a professional? What differentiates you from other professionals with a similar skill set? These questions are the framework for your brand. Once you can answer these questions, you can identify the people and organizations needed for your journey.
If you’re wondering what career season you’re in, read the blog article here: https://www.upwardlypavedpath.com/post/what-season-is-your-career-in
Once you have confident answers to the questions above, it’s time to start engaging with significant players in your target audience network. Investigate industry events, conferences, and meetups that are attended by the people you wish to meet. Eventbrite and your local industry association chapters are great places to find brand-aligned professionals. Know what you want to get and give of each connection and be prepared to deliver your story and value proposition in a brief and convincing manner.
Don’t show up empty-handed! There’s nothing worse than showing up to a networking event like you just strolled in off the street looking for directions. The only way to make networking events worth your time is to be a packaged solution to another professional’s problem. I’m talking about putting your personal brand on display. At minimum, you should have a crafted elevator pitch. The elevator pitch is the first thing you should say when engaging your contact. A good elevator pitch gives an intriguing first impression and swiftly expresses your value proposition to the other party. Ensure your pitch includes your leading skill, how your expertise differentiates you from others, and the problem you solve for your target employer. Ensure you practice your pitch until it becomes second nature and be prepared to change it based on your audience's needs as outlined in the conversation.
Once you’ve created a connection, leave them with something memorable and follow up! I teach how to build and present your irresistible brand in my 90 Day Career Fix program. For now, ensure your business card is just as engaging as your conversation. This is also a great opportunity to share your portfolio (digital or in-person), website, and testimonials. After you exchange business cards (or digital contact information), send a follow-up email within the next day or two, and schedule a “getting to know you” meeting – a touch base outside of the formalized space and understand each other’s strengths. The biggest failure of networking events is participants don’t make an effort to maintain contact over the long term. If you’re going to take the time (and sometimes money) to attend the networking event, make it count and cultivate your relationships over time.
How about taking it to the next level? As you become more of a pro with networking, establish your own networking events or groups! You can host a monthly coffee conversation for professionals in your industry or arrange a panel discussion with movers and shakers in your field. These types of events will give you the authority and priority to network with the most influential professionals and position you as a leader, useful resource, and someone that others should get to know.
The possibilities are endless when you approach networking from the inside out. Whether you’re looking to climb the career ladder, make more money, or change careers completely, networking as part of your brand strategy invites others to help you get to the next best step in your career journey.