Hyper-connected and socially active is rapidly emerging as the mantra to stay relevant in today’s increasingly integrated economy. Agreed, different people will rise up the corporate ladder at different rates but one of the most critical factors determining their success will be their networking capabilities.
Networking done right is sophisticated; it is the art of presenting your message as clearly as possible. It’s often confused with mere doling out of cards but it isn’t just broadcasting and selling but about actively exploring and learning from the others points of views. The art goes beyond adding numbers on social networking sites to building lasting relationships who will vouch for past performance and make recommendations to the future one.
So why do we find networking challenging?
Almost all of us struggle with forming new professional relationships and deriving value from contacts. But why does intentional networking feel so challenging? Most commonly observed reasons are –
· Fear of rejection
· Lack of preparation
· Forgetting the follow-up
The key lies in understanding how networks work and carefully creating and establishing your identity to work for you.
How to go about it?
Make your personal brand identity matter
To establish your identity in a digital age, work upon creating a true image of yourself. It makes who you are, what you do and why clearer to those around you, which brings new opportunities and helps you achieve your goals.
While the lines between personal and professional identity are blurring with the advent of social media there are some pertinent questions which every professional needs to carefully evaluate and answer. For e.g. - · Do you want to share your external identity with your employer to be known as the go-to-person for advice or are you merely interested in doing your job?
· Are you as much an influencer on the inside as you are in outside communities?
Understand how you fit in
Your individual quirks are a huge part of what make you successful, because with your imperfections you are real. While creating a social brand for yourself you need to introspect.
· Know Why - Prepare notes about your motivations behind past actions. If you want to stand out, simply knowing why you do what you do will get you half the way, but the rest comes from what you do with this information.
· Own the Differences - Once you know your reasoning behind your actions, take a look around and see what others in your field are doing, why and how they are doing it. Figuring out what makes you unique will help you cement your individual entity.
Make your contacts count
· Find Your People - People have an associative transference with individuals, and it’s not just your clothing or the music that you listen to that’s important, it’s also the people you surround yourself with.
· Explain Your Orbits – Categorize your contacts so that you segment and share only relevant information with your contacts and that too selectively. Not all those outside your inner orbit need to know all about you.
· Simplify, organize and be you – De-clutter the information available about you and remember that you’re only trying to improve the clarity of your message and not trying to create a new one. Don’t force a rebuild of your life to fit an image that you like either.
Treat your personal brand like the enormous asset it is. Leverage upon your experiences and your idiosyncrasies too. Networking isn’t about creating a persona from nothing; it’s about expanding upon and more publicly displaying what’s already there. Be the best version of yourself you can possibly be as no one can be a better you than you can.