Recently, I informally asked 25 professionals at different stages of their careers to share their thoughts on networking.
In any case, the word itself provoked a sigh, groan, or eye roll and a story about the fear of being in a large room with many strangers. Networking to build your personal brand is different.
- It has a purpose – a means of accomplishing your reason for action
- It should target just the right people – the ones on your stakeholder plan.
- And this is only possible in environments where your value proposition can shine. It doesn’t have to be done in a big room with strangers if that’s not your happy place.
Let’s talk about three networking tips
First, set up your personal board of directors before expanding your network. No more than 5 people who can help maintain your brand and ignite and direct your network. Your board consists of:
- Some connections (which make introductions).
- A mentor who can be a technical expert who knows your space.
- And a peer-level person who can serve as a reality check without competing with you.
Second, you know your question. Knowing what you stand for and what you need makes it easier for you to get involved and network.
Example: Hi, I am an investor relations professional developing a specialty in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments. Would you be ready to spend 30 minutes sharing your perspective on ESG?
Asking is uncomfortable because it takes us to a potentially vulnerable place. A recent book on networking and influence reads well: “Ask what you want. Be precise. Give other people the opportunity to say yes. “
After all, you get involved in a convenient and authentic way. If that means 1: 1 through introductions of your personal board of directors, that’s great. When it comes to your own small group breakfast discussions. By all means.
Our investor relations professional may never have to rejoin a large meeting if he or she successfully connects 1-on-1 with CFOs and other investor relations professionals based on his ESG insights.
These are three ways that you can change the way you play around networking and focus on building your personal brand and reaching your reason for action.