These days, ‘networking’ doesn’t necessarily mean a large gathering of professionals in a conference suite. A combination of ever-advancing digital technologies and safety restrictions imposed by Covid-19 have shifted the way that we expand our professional networks.
Nevertheless, whether you’re attending a socially distanced meet-up or a more laid-back webinar on Zoom, there are still endless opportunities to better establish your personal brand.
Showcase your authenticity
Although you may consider your website, blog posts and social media profiles to be an accurate representation of you and your business, it’s always difficult to gauge authenticity until you’ve met someone in person. Networking is an opportunity to really get to know someone as person, rather than just a name and profile picture on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Uphold your reputation
Each networking event you attend is likely to be centred around a particular topic, and you’ll need to do your research on it beforehand if it’s one you’re not already familiar with. If it puts your mind at ease, why not plan a few talking points or conversation starters in advance? You’ll need to prove that you’re fully up to speed with what’s happening in your industry in order to maintain your reputation as an expert in your field.
Cultivate new relationships
It’s useful to know who will be at an event too, so that you can pinpoint the people that you’d most like to interact with. Many companies will publish a list of attendees ahead of the event, so be sure to take a look. Check out the attendees’ websites and social media profiles too, carefully considering which best align with your own personal brand. Is there someone you’d like to collaborate with, or a thought leader that you admire?
When you’re at a conference, try using LinkedIn’s handy ‘find nearby’ tool which will provide you with a list of LinkedIn users that are standing in close proximity to you. It’ll not only help you find these familiar faces, but help you stay in contact with them after the event too!
Strengthen existing connections
Successfully growing your professional network requires patience, an open mind and a genuine desire to connect with like-minded individuals. Essentially, networking is relationship-building – or at least it should be. What services or support could you offer? Could you refer them to a potential business opportunity? There’s a difference between self-promotion and networking, and the emphasis should always be on the latter.
After being introduced to someone new, it’s wise to send them a connection request on LinkedIn. Instead of using the automated message, why not write your own? Personalised InMail messages boost your chance of a positive response by 15% and are another way to help clearly define your personal brand.
At any networking event, always aim for quality over quantity. Remember that there’s no need to try and speak to every person in the room – it’s best to invest your time in just a few conversations and really make them worthwhile.
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