How to build your personal brand through networking
You don’t have to be an influencer or celebrity A lister to have a personal brand. In fact, each and every one of us really ought to be thinking about what our brand is and how we want to use it to achieve our objectives.
‘Personal brand? What is this marketing flimflam?’ I hear you cry. Well, buckle up, because if you’re not thinking about your personal brand, you clearly aren’t serious about your business or your career. Your ‘brand’ is how you represent and promote yourself to others. It’s the way you show your experiences, skills, and personality to the world. And by telling your story and expertise, you can build professional relationships and new career opportunities for yourself.
Now that doesn’t sound like flimflam to me!
Contrary to the vainglorious first impressions conjured up by the term, personal branding doesn’t involve endless hours at the salon, posing for highly staged, yet supposedly completely natural Insta shots or launching your own brand of energy drink on TikTok. In fact, having a strong personal brand can mean pretty much anything you want it to be because it’s all about you and how you present yourself to the world.
Regardless of whether you want one or not, most of us already have a brand. In old money, it’s what we’d call a reputation – the values, characteristics and achievements we’re known for amongst our community. What many of us don’t consciously do is think about how we build and use that reputation to help us achieve our personal and professional goals.
Why build your personal brand?
Whether you are building your own business or developing your career within the workplace, having a considered approach to personal branding will help you broadcast your brilliance to the world. It helps your target audience (whether they be customers or employers) understand your values, attributes and qualities and it helps set you apart authentically. When that happens, opportunities start to come your way because people ‘get you’.
Can networking help you build your personal brand?
Networking is the perfect conduit for building and communicating your personal brand because good networking is all about relationships.
Good networking is a skill and using it well to position yourself, your business or your career, requires a bit of thought and planning. Luckily for you, here at Opendoorz we’ve got the odd decade or two of networking experience. With twelve groups across Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and Berkshire and almost 150 members passing in excess of £2.5m worth of business between themselves a year, there isn’t an awful lot we haven’t seen or heard when it comes to good networking practice.
We’ve pulled together our top tips for how to build your personal brand through networking.
#1 Trust begins with you
If you’ve read any of our blogs before (if not, where have you been? They’re brilliant! Check them out here.), you’ll know how important trust is to building good relationships and that networking is all about relationships. It should also come as no surprise that having a strong personal brand also involves trust. What you might not realise is that the best way to earn trust is to give it.
The best way to build trust in a networking environment is to show genuine interest in someone else’s business without agenda. The most important networking skills you can develop are listening and asking questions. Listening validates the value of others and is a form of respect. Respect goes hand in hand with trust and both are admirable professional qualities in anyone’s personal brand.
#2 Use the power of a compliment
Compliments are hugely powerful yet cost the giver very little. Compliments make people feel valued and are key to establishing a personal connection.
Giving genuine compliments will make you seem warm, open and kind but they don’t have to be grand gestures. Telling someone how much you enjoyed their presentation or showcase, commenting positively on a piece of news they’ve shared on LinkedIn, or letting them know they delivered a powerful intro are all simple but effective ways to give someone a warm glow and help them feel more positive towards you.
#3 Be a giver not a taker
The best networkers understand that good networking is about helping people. Avoid thinking too much about what others can do for you and think about how you can be helping someone else. People will appreciate your willingness to help and will be more likely to want to help you in return. Offer your advice freely and be generous in offering to introduce people to your own network.
#4 Don’t suffer the takers
Having a strong personal brand is about being true to yourself and your values, that includes not tolerating those who don’t align with that. Every so often you will find someone in your network who doesn’t reciprocate trust, positivity and generosity. That person does not need to be in your network! Personal brand is as much about how you live your values as present them and behaving in one way but tolerating/endorsing different values in others presents contradiction to those around you.
#5 Keep in touch
Life is busy and despite our best intentions we lose touch with certain people in our network. Out of sight often does mean out of mind and if you’ve slipped off the radar then all the personal branding in the world won’t register. Yes, it requires effort but keeping in touch with your extended network is very important. Make the effort to attend networking meetings regularly (even when you’re very busy!), diarise time to share updates on LinkedIn, go to the ad hoc drinks event (even if it’s been a long day) – all those little ‘blips on the radar’ will help keep you in mind and help keep relationships strong.
At Opendoorz, we know the power of good networking to build, maintain and grow your personal brand. That’s why we structure our twice monthly meetings to allow every member time to share about themselves and have in-depth discussions with others so that they can really get to know one another. Outside of the regular meetings we have wider events that allow all the groups to meet and keep connected and all members are actively encouraged to have regular one-to-one or insight meetings as we know that’s a proven way to build trust and confidence in each other. Each group hosts a guest event once a month and we’d love for you to join us. We currently have networking groups in Oxford, Witney, Bicester, Milton Park, Henley, the North Cotswolds, Wallingford, Thame, Marlow and Newbury with a Cheltenham group launching in February 2023.