It's not what you know...
A theme that has come up with several of my clients as they consider their next career move is that of networking and their personal brand. Most people who have been working for a while will realise that doing a good job is only one part of getting the recognition that brings the next promotion or a new role. An essential part is how well people know you or know of you. This is a combination of your brand as well as your network.
Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. For your network I’m not just talking about the number of connections you have on LinkedIn. Your network are those people who know you and your capabilities and hopefully will help you or recommend you to others. Both of these benefit from some proactive care and effort.
How do you build and maintain your network?
The past 2 years have changed how we do this. It used to be coffee or breakfast meetings, catching up at a conference or going for a drink after work. More working from home and less travel have made face to face meetings harder, however the upside is a familiarity and comfort with video conferencing has made it easier to keep in touch with those further afield.
My experience from moving around the world is that it doesn’t have to be difficult and time-consuming to maintain your network. Keeping in touch with people can be as simple as dropping the odd message or sharing stories on platforms such as LinkedIn. And don’t be afraid to rekindle connections that you might not have spoken to in a while. I had a great time in Singapore last year catching up with contacts from when I lived in Kuala Lumpur and Doha several years ago. The intervening decade was simply a pause in friendships.
Where you need to extend your network, particularly if outside your current employer, this takes a bit more effort. I have found that the best way is to be specific on what you want and what you have in common. The more you approach it on the basis of how you can help others, the more successful you are likely to be. How you might be of interest to them? Are you relevant to their world? Can you introduce them to someone in your network that can help them out? How can they help you? If you have someone who can offer a warm introduction all the better. They can then decide if they are willing to share their time. This willingness often comes down to what people have heard about you from others, your brand. Asking for introductions depends on the person doing the introduction having a positive impression of you. You are asking them to use their personal capital for your benefit. If you are doing this frequently for other people then you are more likely to have people offering to help you.
Building and maintaining a network is something that requires concerted focus. It is often the thing that can be put off when you are busy with your day job and family life. You’ll notice the most successful people are good at making time for this. They know it’s a key part of their success. Your network can be the source of referrals, advice and support. Ideally you can find a way that means you are enjoying getting to know people better rather than considering it a chore. It’s important to find a way that works for you and you feel comfortable with.
Please get in touch if you want help expanding your network and raising your profile as you consider a career move.
At a networking event I organised pre-Covid.