The phrases “personal branding” and “networking skills” make a lot of people cringe. It’s often associated with being sleazy and ingenuine, with the main goal being wriggling your way into the “inner circle” for your own selfish reasons.
Leaving aside the nasty reputation, networking—if it’s based on building genuine relationships—is one of the most powerful tools for personal brands.
First of all, hanging out with the crowd in your industry is important for being able to learn from the best—knowledge sharing is one of the most powerful ways for everyone to succeed.
Networking is also a great way to get yourself associated and on the radar with other professionals—not just because, but for establishing useful partnerships and cooperation.
There is definitely a subtle art behind successful and authentic networking. Besides the work that goes into figuring out your motives, finding your approach, and creating compelling conversations, a lot of hard effort needs to go into maintaining the relationships you form too.
Today, we’re going to share five tips for polishing your public relationships skills, and maintaining your connections.
1. Figure Out Your “Why?”
Like we said in the intro, the word “networking” tends to have a bad reputation, so you need to make sure that your motives for wanting to network don’t align with that nasty label.
Before you start taking any other steps, you need to understand what networking really means—especially for you personally.
What’s your ultimate goal with trying to make connections with other people in your industry or area? Why are you doing it?
Are you mainly trying to initiate knowledge sharing and learning from others? Are you looking to maybe start cooperating or working with these people? Are you looking for business partners or investors?
You need to have a very clear understanding of why you want to start getting into networking, rather “just because” or “it’d be fun”. This will help you pick your strategies and make sure you have the right approach.
Even though, like we said, networking needs to be based on genuinely, there are still different initial “pitches” you need to make—even just to start a conversation. You don’t have to sell yourself by any means, but knowing what you’re after will help you set the right tone from the get go.
Just trying to make a light connection with someone whose work you admire is very different from starting a conversation with someone you hope will invest in your business.
So, before you jump into any action, figure out your “why” and think about how that would set the tone for your communication.