You’ve just launched an incredible new product—your brainchild that you’ve been dreaming up for years—but instead of feeling successful and proud, you feel defeated and confused. Inventory isn’t moving like it should be. But your website hasn’t crashed from a sudden influx of online sales. And it’s not that your product isn’t great—because, let’s face it, it’s perfect and you should be proud—so what is it?
Or maybe this sounds familiar: You’ve just graduated from college with a hard-earned degree. You busted your behind to master the subjects and prove that you are ready to further develop your education as a professional in your chosen field. You’ve carefully constructed a witty yet intelligent cover letter, spent a little too much time analyzing the font in your email signature and applied for dozens of positions, yet you haven’t landed your dream job. It’s not that you aren’t qualified—your degree and that perfectly punctuated cover letter prove you know your stuff—so what is it?
In a world where we’re routinely flooded by classified ads and perfect jobs are few and far between, there’s a secret sauce that can help differentiate you from the competition: networking. It seems so simple, but networking can help your personal brand grow exponentially in a variety of ways.
Now, for clarity, when we say brand this could refer to a company that sells a product or service, or it could mean you as a professional. Either way, networking provides the same benefits to individuals and organizations and is something we should all spend more time doing.
So, first things first: Grab a cup of coffee. (A blog post should always be read with coffee.) Now, prepare to learn how networking can help your brand grow.
- Connections. You hear it all the time: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. While nothing can replace having the appropriate knowledge, experience or skill, the reality is that people recommend people they know, like and trust. In fact, many of the best job opportunities are never advertised to the public, but are instead shared through networks. Having an ‘in’ can open the door to your dream job or create a new line of opportunities such as client leads, speaking and writing gigs, joint ventures and partnerships.
- Promotions. Having a solid foundation of people who like you and your brand is invaluable. Your network is your brand’s cheerleaders and they advocate for your success among their other networks. With their help, your brand receives a boost in reputation or sales, and ultimately your circle of influences widens.
- Resources. A network of like-minded professionals gives you access to a directory of amazing resources—for free. Your contacts become your advisors, offering information and advice you would normally have to pay a consultant for. They can keep you on track or share how they overcame challenges similar to those you’re facing. And, on the flip side, you can build a reputation as a knowledgeable and supportive resource by returning the favor.
- Friendships. At the end of the day, it’s nice to have someone who understands what you do. There are proven psychological and emotional benefits to having a friend in the business. In addition, a friend in your field can serve as a sounding board for new ideas or be there for a much needed pep talk. Plus, there’s an added bonus to having work friends: You have someone to take coffee breaks with during the day!
“But I don’t have time to go to networking events.” No problem! Not all networking requires attending an event. Social media platforms make for a simple and effective way to network not only with other professionals or audiences, but also with other businesses, making the possibilities of new connections endless. Five minutes and a few messages a day can get you in touch with individuals who can provide a wealth of knowledge and, of course, more connections.