Expand Your Personal Network - dummies

By Susan Chritton

If the list of people you know seems too sparse to support your personal branding goals, your next step is to consider how to meet more people. Simple, right? Well, for some people, it’s simple. For others, meeting new people may require a serious effort. Which category do you fall in?

The following quiz, provided courtesy of William Arruda, founder of Reach Personal Branding, can help you figure out how skilled you are at going beyond your comfort zone in the effort to meet new people.

  1. Do you take an active role in at least one professional or philanthropic organization?

  2. Do you burn bridges when you leave jobs or assignments and never look back?

  3. Do you attend functions where you know you’ll meet people you need to know?

  4. How many people do you typically meet at networking functions?

  5. Before going to a networking event, do you stress out, or do you identify your objectives for the event?

  6. Can you state what you do, for whom you do it, and how you are different from your peers or competitors in 1 minute?

  7. When you find a contact who would be perfect for friends or colleagues, do you connect them or instantly forget about it?

  8. Do you know how to end conversations comfortably and when to end them?

  9. When attending events, do you bring business cards or just your smile?

  10. At social and business events, do you recognize faces/forget names or remember the people clearly?

  11. When people ask you about what you do for work, do you tell them what you do and how you do it or just your job title?

  12. Are you clear to others about who your ideal contacts would be?

  13. Do you return voicemails and e-mails from network contacts?

  14. Do you belong to a virtual network like LinkedIn or Google+?

  15. Do you feel comfortable calling people who were referred to you by someone you know?

  16. After meeting someone new, do you hope to see that person again or follow up with an e-mail or phone call?

  17. Do you find clever ways to reconnect and/or stay in touch with contacts?

  18. When you receive new contact information, do you put it in the contact pile or enter it into a contact system?

  19. When following up, do you provide value or ask for something?

  20. Do you send thank-you cards for business referrals or for career opportunities?

  21. Do you talk to members of your professional network?

  22. Do you have an e-mail list of your professional contacts so that you can easily send them a mass e-mail?

  23. Do you send birthday greetings or e-greetings cards to members of your professional network?

  24. Do you connect members of your network for their mutual benefit?

You can easily figure out what the ideal response to each question would be. If your honest answers are less than ideal, note which questions you need to improve on and add those improvements to your list of professional development goals.

Here are some specific tips that can help you begin to step out of your comfort zone:

  • Join groups. Join professional or special interest groups where you can meet new people.

  • Participate. Become active by taking on a board position. Attend the chapter meetings or events offered by the group.

  • Volunteer. Volunteering exposes you to people you may not otherwise meet. You can build your skills, serve the community, and meet new people.

  • Speak at events. Share your expertise about your career or interests to not only build your network but also become known for your brand.

  • Be active online. Begin by crafting your profiles on key online sites. Post updates, share books, or identify interesting articles to your contacts.