Share Your Personal Brand with Your Community
When you begin to develop your personal brand, you assign a new level of importance to networking. You want to include your target market in your networking efforts and be more strategic in how you get to know other people who can support your brand and your goals. It’s time to go beyond developing your network by chance.
First, determine who should be the focus of your networking efforts. Begin by asking yourself to consider people you already know and then expand your network to include others you haven’t yet met.
People who sharing your interests
The easiest place to meet people and build your network is through shared interest groups, such as professional association meetings, clubs, social groups, classes to learn about a hobby, parenting groups, exercise classes, or on the sidelines of a child’s sport.
If you’re on the shy side, attending activities with others who share your interests is much easier than meeting people at other functions. Begin with the person sitting next to you and build your network one person at time. The process feels more comfortable and less intimidating that way.
People you already know
The topic of networking is frightening to some people because they don’t understand that networking really just involves meeting people and engaging in conversations. Even introverts can enjoy networking if they find the right people to talk to. The best way to begin is by having conversations with people you already know.
What scares people about networking is that they often neglect their contacts. When they realize that they need to tap in to their network, such as during a job search, they feel like they’re using people that they’ve neglected for years. The best time to build a network is when you don’t have an immediate need for it.
With social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, building a network is sometimes easier than calling a stale contact and reintroducing yourself. The place to start is with your immediate sphere of influence.
To begin the process, take a look at the following list and think about who falls into these categories. Make a list of who you know in each of these areas and begin building your network with these people:
Former employers and coworkers
Common interest associates
Professional association members
Local community leaders
Bankers, attorneys, and medical professionals
School or college acquaintances
Faith community members