Effective networking requires more than exchanging business cards or LinkedIn invitations. It involves personal branding, the ongoing process of quantifying and packaging your professional value. The way clients, colleagues and competitors see you affects your business opportunities. Clients and employers want to deal with confident, innovative professionals. Demonstrating how well you meet their expectations can lead to increased opportunities for advancement. Make the most of your skills and experience by learning how to market yourself.
Look the Part
Snap judgments are inescapable. Your dress and demeanor attract or repel allies. Wrinkled clothing and poor eye contact probably won’t land you a job. Your online presence also matters. Prospective clients may check up on your Internet reputation before contracting with you. Employers also check out the digital lives of prospective employees, including personal contacts associated with their professional profiles. Maintaining separate personal and professional social media profiles can decrease chances of guilt by association. It is also important to perform damage control strategically following negative publicity.
Develop an Identity
Credentials and experience matter more than attestations of competence. Join organizations that align with your image. Use social media to stay in contact with professionals you meet at seminars and workshops. Design a portfolio that displays your creativity and passion for your chosen endeavor. Contributing to professional or specialty blogs can also increase your credibility and buzz.
Perfect Your Pitch
Effective sales pitches hit fast and hard. They engage listeners, inspiring them to ask follow-up questions and form positive impressions. Mastering the art of storytelling can ensure you stay cool when it’s time for that once in a lifetime elevator pitch. Practice your self-promotion pitch regularly, using different methods. Record yourself answering the “Tell Me About Yourself” interview directive to assess your word choice, body language and voice control. Practice asking your boss for a raise in the mirror. Ask friends to call you unexpectedly and ask you to explain your new invention. Seek feedback on how well you got your message across under less-than-ideal conditions.
Clicking with clients, colleagues and potential investors is important. Building rapport with others can make them more receptive to your message. Mirror your listeners by trying to match their mood and movements during conversations. Practice active-listening techniques to display attentiveness such as nodding along thoughtfully when colleagues share news.