Here, I’d like to simplify networking from a personal branding perspective by offering you tools and tips for becoming more effective at identifying potential networking relationships and building a great intentional network of contacts.
Intentional Networking takes the randomness out of meeting people. When I advise professionals on building strategic and intentional relationships, the focus is on mutual benefit, opportunity to add value, and seeing beyond just the transaction. Why leave something as important as your contacts and relationships to chance? Should you just “hope” that you will know the right people? That they will just be able to figure out what makes you relevant and compelling? And that by some cosmic osmosis they will think of YOU when a great opportunity arises?
Instead, approach your intentional networking strategically. Ask yourself:
- Who do I know?
- Who do I need to know?
- How will I meet them?
- What do I have to offer them?
How can I help my key networking contacts understand what makes me compelling and relevant? How will I provide them with information, insight, and the tools to refer me to ideal opportunities?
Networks of key contacts do no good sitting on a shelf. It’s hard to expect your network to be able to provide you with value, or allow you to reciprocate with an offer, if they don’t know how to help you.
- Will I create a robust database of my network?
- How will I stay in touch?
- What do I need from my network? How can I remind them of the value, tools, resources, and contacts I bring to our relationship?
Does it matter if your network considers you a “nice guy” versus a thought leader with passion for information technology applied to K-12 education? You bet it does! Nice guys get invited to backyard barbecues, birthday parties, and movie premieres. Thought leaders in their industry are included in critical conversations that move an agenda forward.
When considering how to articulate and promote your value proposition, begin by getting clear on what you can offer, who needs that offer, and how you can communicate your offer authentically so as to create action and interest from your network.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Have I found “my voice?”
- Am I able to articulate my value prop?
- What’s my elevator pitch? Can I explain what I do and how I am different/compelling and provide an example of my value in a 30 or 60 second pitch?
Similar to a network that isn’t actionable, you need to be visible and top of mind with your contacts. Life is too busy for most people to expect they will remember you if a great opportunity arises for you. Instead of leaving your fate to chance, create a system for remaining top-of-mind with key contacts, reminding them of your offer, value, and resources, and continue to provide value to your network of equal or greater value than they give you.
- Am I showing up in the right places?
- Am I showing up in the right way?
- Has time passed since I last contacted my network with either a suggestion, article of interest, or offer?
Most effective networkers admit they say “yes” more than “no.” Raising your hand, volunteering, and offering assistance/connections/support often endears you to others and puts you in a more visible position to articulate your value proposition.
When we get busy and clients, prospects, employees, and colleagues compete for our precious time, it’s hard to say “yes” to a new inquiry. Consider agreeing to more than you turn down, however. Momentum and visibility are valuable, and when times get busy, we often forget to “prime the pump” and keep our name out there.