Building and improving your brand
In my view, there is no substitute for engaging with people. Relationships matter and strong relationships are key to success in business. When we sometimes find ourselves in a new role, we can discover the real truth about business. There is no rule book and there are very few whom you can ask for help. This is when we realise the power of our support network.
Whether you like it or not, networking matters. True networking doesn’t necessarily mean entering cavernous rooms and trying to engage in conversations with people we have never met before. That may be something you enjoy. Most people in my experience do not. Networking operates on both a business and a personal basis, in person or increasingly through social networks. It involves making connections to people with whom you can build a long-lasting, mutual relationship. For the connection to work, there will be a value to the relationship for both parties.
It is no different in business. People connect because they have a mutual respect or a shared need or a common project. Over time, this builds into your own business support network which you can nurture and develop and invest time in. Whether your network comprises of five people or 500, this becomes your own circle of the people whom you value, who would come to your aid in difficult times and whom you would support without question. They will have skills and experiences that you don’t possess and their counsel will be invaluable when the going gets tough.
The problem is that in times gone by our networks tended to be localised. People stayed with one company for longer and tended to relocate less. Today, with a truly global economy, there are many more opportunities available to us and it becomes much more of a challenge to stay connected. It is much easier to lose track and have to start again. Added to this, we are more likely to take on new, more challenging, roles sometimes in different parts of the country or the world. This is when you need your network most.
Internetworking for knowledge-sharing and results
Building a network in person has the advantage of the personal touch, so how do we develop our networks and stay connected in the world of the internet? A world where there is a lot of noise and it is hard to differentiate between quality and everything else. Building your own personal presence is easy providing you remember just a few simple rules.
Build a powerful brand. The central profile you create for yourself will become the “you” that both friends and strangers alike will start to recognise. Whichever tool you use (and LinkedIn seems to be the clear winner at present), make sure that every word you post represents you in a way that you want to be represented. Use the same profile picture (a good quality head shot) and when you mention your business, use consistent words. Always be aware that you will be appearing on searches undertaken by complete strangers. You are creating a first impression more often than you know.
Say something interesting. We all see items of news on the internet whether it is about general principles in business or something that relates to your own area of specialism. Why not tell your contacts and tell them why you think it matters? That way they will remember that you have interesting opinions and feel connected to you. The more often you share the more often you will be seen. People don’t look through their contacts every day but they do see their newsfeed.
Avoid the hard sell. People are connecting with you and not your products. Instead, find ways of telling people your views, what you are passionate about, why you believe that there is a problem and how you would solve it.
Keep everything connected. If you use a range of social media tools, make sure that everything is consistent. The same picture and the same biography for a start (again think Brand). If you post news on one then post news on them all (With the exception of Facebook which is not normally the place for your views on business.) .This doesn’t have to be onerous. One or two posts a week will make you stand out from the huge majority of users who don’t really know what is going on.
Listen, learn and interact with other people and see how your network grows. We are fortunate enough to be the first human beings in history who are writing our own autobiographies on a daily basis. The internet will last forever. What will it say about you?
Eddie Kilkelly is Managing Director at insynergi,
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