To use networking to build your brand, you must first identify which segment you fall into - why are you working on your brand. There are three basic reasons to work on your brand:
- Building - if you’re just out of school, entering the workforce again, or conducting a job search for example,
- Maintaining - if you are a professional wanting to climb the ladder in your industry or enhance your standing within it, and
- Changing - if you feel your brand is not what you want it to be and it needs to be adjusted.
Next, you can start to identify organizations to get involved in. Research associations, non-profit organizations and foundations relevant to your industry in your area, or those with connections to your career path. The local business association may be relevant for your needs, or a networking group for young professionals. Either way, consider which group(s) would be best for you based on your goals. For example, if you need to enhance your stature in your industry - choose the industry specific association. If you’re looking to secure more clients in your area from your peers, the young professional group may be the group to leverage.
Finally, reach out to those organizations and offer to get involved in one or all of the three ways below. These are important ways to participate because beyond just being a member, they will provide you with visibility within the organization which is a critical piece to branding. You can choose from any or all of these options:
- Offer to speak, participate in a panel, or host a workshop on an area of expertise
- Write a blog, article, or create a video they can post in their newsletter or on their website
- Volunteer to serve on the committee or board of an organization relevant to your industry, whether is be an association or volunteer board
This sounds easy right, so ... how can you get started?
- Use the internet to gather information about the organization you would like to get involved in, and reach out to the president or event coordinator of said organization. You can also research LinkedIn groups for connections from that organization.
- Identify an topic area you feel comfortable with and prepare a speech based on that topic. It could even be a speech you have given before, but that you update with current information.
- Then, make a list of groups you want to reach out to in the next week and away you go. Pitch them your idea, and once it’s accepted, you will have the deadline in place and the motivation as well to get moving on it.
Networking in this way has great results. It can increase your connections, build your confidence, and help others see you as an expert in your field. Also, being active in this way helps you stay on top of trends and current issues in your industry.