In a past post on LinkedIn, I mentioned that a future post would be about the very important connection between networking and your personal brand. And then LinkedIn announced a major change to their Company Page feature and I wrote a post about that where I shared some advice about dealing with their often-unexpected changes. Now, here we are, quite a while later, and I’m finally getting to it. Hope this sheds some light and helps you reframe networking as it relates to you and your business.
Networking is an opportunity to market and demonstrate your personal brand
As the Chief Connecting Officer of Bella Domain Media, one of my goals is to teach entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, small business owners and other professionals how to effectively and genuinely connect online and offline. As a self-described networking enthusiast (and some in the media even call me a “networking expert”), I wrote a book titled, I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???: A Guide to Making The Most Out Of Any Networking Event” (Happy About Press), mainly because I know all too well that many entrepreneurs and most business owners dread this vital “marketing” activity.
Truth is, I’m fairly certain I was a somewhat “reluctant networker” at the beginning of my career. But today I believe that beyond self-promotion, networking builds community and creates healthier and stronger business environments. I also believe that networking online and offline is a necessary marketing investment in your own personal brand as well as your business and it never has to be a waste of time. Today, perhaps more than ever, your network has everything to do with your professional net worth and having effective and polished offline and online marketing (aka, networking) skills can play a key role in your success and professional/business development.
Networking as a marketing channel
In her book, Rules For Renegades (McGraw Hill), Christine Comaford said, “Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for,” and I, most definitely, agree. Years ago, when I first met Christine, and read this quote from her, I knew I had to include it in my book on networking and I did (chapter 7’s title page).
The truth is
It doesn’t matter if you’re focused locally or are looking for opportunities internationally, the most important source of referrals for new business or jobs can usually be found in meeting people face-to-face. Whether you do this by attending local or regional events in your city or flying to industry conferences a few times a year, those in-person connections can help you build your brand very effectively.
In today’s world, we’re lucky that we have both offline and online options for networking. But it’s important to use both if you want to build your brand and maximize your reach.
Social media marketing and social networking
Online, it’s important not to confuse social media marketing with social networking. Social media marketing is much more akin to traditional marketing in that it’s trying to achieve the same thing: sales, leads, interest and buzz.
Social networking, however, is a different animal with different rules and outcomes. While it can be done on many of the same platforms as social media marketing (e.g, LinkedIn, Twitter), for me, social networking is mostly about staying in touch and making connections and also the way I develop and cultivate those connections.
In the distant past, people used a Rolodex and a phone. Then, we gravitated to email as a way to stay in touch. Today, with online social networking tools and activities, you can not only stay in touch with people you meet in person, but you have the ability to create new connections with people you’ll probably never meet face-to-face. And since there is so much more online information available, you can easily research commons interests before meeting with a customer, collaborator, or vendor before you’ve ever met and then have a few conversation starters available at your fingertips.
You can also connect with potential partners and customers from all over the world.
It is important to note the distinction between social media marketing and social networking because both serve a purpose in your brand-building efforts. You just need to be clear about what you get from each tactic.
When engaging in social networking, you need to come at it from a place of generosity and mutual benefit, not a sales angle. Try to present yourself online as you would at an in-person event. You’d never just meet someone for the first time, shove your business card in their face and ask them to buy what you’re selling, would you? While there are some people who do this, it’s not the best way to boost your brand perception. Be human and be consistent online with your brand, just as you would offline.
I also often see people present themselves one way in their website or profile, but they would never be that way in person. Such inconsistency can hurt your brand. You want to authentically present you and your brand online the same way you would if they walked into your store or met you at a meeting or interview.
While it’s true that some industries, such as finance or academia, may require a certain formality due to legal issues or government regulations, for the most part social networking is about presenting yourself as human. After all, YOU are your brand, especially if you’re a solopreneur, consultant or small businesses owner. The idea is to be consistent with the same voice, same values, same style online as well as offline. Of course, use caution: you can’t be overly familiar with someone online whom you don’t know very well. That road typically leads to disaster.
You can use social networking platforms to follow-up on connections you make in-person to help reinforce your brand and demonstrate your commitment to cultivating a relationship. When you meet someone at an event, exchange cards and invite them to connect with you through your social media channel of choice. If you do this, they are more inclined to click-through to your profile and learn more about your business and brand than if you’d sent an email with a website link in it. Make sure you take the time to create a polished profile that reflects your current and future brand. I often tell my clients that resumes are about the past, and they need to cover yours, but I believe it is your profile on LinkedIn (or bio on Twitter), that is about today and the future. It should include information that indicates how you are positioning yourself for the work or opportunities you want to attract or be found for today and in the near future.
Why networking matters
In many circles, there exists a belief that the bigger your network, the more successful you and your brand may be perceived. There is a certain cache to how far-reaching your connections are as well as a perception that a large and high-quality network connotes a certain level of success, and that you have valuable resources available to you to get things done. In recent years, I’ve even seen job postings and contractor opportunities posted where they state that if you don’t have at least 250 connections on LinkedIn you shouldn’t even bother to apply.
Be nice or leave and don’t be shady
Both online as well as offline networking simply reinforces who you are in the world and the way you are in the world as a professional either supports or hurts your brand, whether we’re talking about a personal or business brand. Your social interactions with people via social media or at events need to be polite, kind, thoughtful, and worded with care. Without being intentional and making the time to consistently do this as part of your marketing, you will fall short of your professional goals.
I’m running out of the recommended amount of words for a professional blog post, so if you’d like to read eight tips for achieving offline and online networking bliss, check out my interview in a chapter of the 2nd edition of Branding Basics for Small Business by my good friend (and frequent collaborator) Maria Ross of Red Slice.
Here’s a teaser of the first two tips:
1) Follow up online with offline contacts: When you meet offline, instead of just sending an email, immediately connect with new contacts through online social channels, such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+, etc. And to keep that connection fresh, don’t wait too long to do this; I suggest within 48 hours. If you’re at a conference, as tired as you might be at end of day, it’s smart to send a follow-up as soon as you can so the connection is fresh in both of your minds.
2) Personalize the note: Do NOT send invitations to connect on a social channel without personalizing the message. I cannot emphasize this enough! Say something meaningful or relevant to your conversation or social interaction. Remind them how you met or compliment them on their website or blog. How great is it that we live in an age when it’s so easy to take this opportunity to make that connection deeper? Some social networks, like LinkedIn, require you to have an email to connect. If you don’t have their email, in some cases, you can mark them as a “Friend” but again, make sure you personalize the message and add a P.S. apologizing for using the friend card.
Does your marketing budget include a line for networking expenses/activities? What’s your best success story about a new connection you made via social networking?
I’m the author of I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???, the #1 pick on the Inc.com 2010 Business Book Wish List. As CCO for Bella Domain Media, I share my insights and practical advice as a professional development speaker and trainer, and consultant/coach. This post was inspired by my contribution to a chapter about social networking in the 2nd edition of Branding Basics for Small Business by Maria Ross, which was released April 1, 2014. You can check it out here.Read More
Happy Turkey Day weekend!
If you want to “shop small” this Small Business Saturday and boost your own brand and small business in the process, why not take advantage of my $50 off special offer and allow me to show you how you can effectively market and promote your small biz on LinkedIn?
Why this offer and why now? I was recently grateful and honored to be hand-picked by LinkedIn (their words, not mine) to deliver a presentation on Small Business Marketing on LinkedIn at the event they co-sponsored in Silicon Valley with the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce called, LinkedIn Live.
In honor of Small Business Saturday, it would be my pleasure to provide you (or your peeps) with your very own LinkedIn Live where I share the opportunity-generating tips and tactics I presented there, so I’m knocking $50 off my 2 hr personalized LinkedIn session through Dec 6th.
Just click this (or the image below) to secure your session:
Here’s what a few happy clients had to say:
I’ll be in touch via email to schedule your 2 hr session soon after receiving the payment notification.
I’m looking forward to working with you!
Have a great weekend,
If you’ve followed any of my blog posts here or on LinkedIn, or read my book, then you know that I highly recommend requesting and giving recommendations on LinkedIn, so I’m not going to get on my soapbox about that in this post. Today, I’m going to cover what to do with them once you start collecting them.
Not all LinkedIn recommendations are created equally
It’s true. Not all LinkedIn recommendations are created equally, which is why it’s so important to maximize the limited space available for showcasing them on your LinkedIn profile. And, honestly, if you’re not making the most of this very limited amount of “real estate” available, you need to reconsider why you’re bothering to collect them in the first place.
As most of us know, you’re able to request and then post (or not) any recommendation someone writes for you on LinkedIn. And there are also ways you can control where the recommendations you write for others show up on your profile as well, but that is a post for a different day or maybe a future Making Connections Matter eLearning webcast.
Some recommendations carry more weight than others
Currently, the most recent recommendations you receive for a specific position appear in the first and second positions on your profile at the very end of that position’s description. See below:
Sometimes, though, you receive a new recommendation that just doesn’t pack as much punch as the previous 2 you had displayed. Perhaps it’s too generic or didn’t emphasis the things you had hoped they would and don’t know the person well enough to ask them to spruce it up. Well, reordering is the answer!
The 2 ways I know of to reorder your recommendations
The 1st way you can reorder your recommendations is:
Under Profile in the top navigation bar click on the Edit Profile option. Then scroll all the way to the bottom of the of your profile — usually below your Organizations and Honors & Awards, but before you see the bottom navigation for the page (Help Center, About, etc). On the left side of your profile, you will see a series of black/gray title blocks, one of which will say Recommendations. Then look immediately to the right of Recommendations and you will see a pencil. Click the pencil to enter edit mode for Recommendations. Once you’re in edit mode on Recommendations, you will see all your Recommendations listed by your career position. On the right side of each recommendation will be a double-sided arrow. Simply click and drag this up/down arrow to reorder your recommendations.
This will allow you to ensure your two preferred recommendations appear on your profile page when others view it. See arrows below.
And the 2nd way:
If you want to reorder and/or move a recommendation to a different career position, there is another way to manage almost everything else related to your recommendations on LinkedIn. Get into Privacy & Settings via the drop-down menu under your very upper-right avatar image and then look for “Manage your recommendations” and follow the instructions below. You’ll want to poke around and see what else you can do once you see what’s possible.
Have fun with this new knowledge!
After writing this post, I’m absolutely certain I need to do an entire webcast on all the other things that popped into my mind that I should share about LinkedIn Recommendations.
So, be sure you register to get the invites to my Making Connections Matter eLearing series! Here’s the link again, just in case you have images turned off—-> http://bit.ly/mcmsjk1
And please feel free to send comments or questions via my Contact Us page (been having some spam issues with Comments lately). Thank you!Read More
Introducing a new (and zero-cost) business-boosting elearning series aimed at setting you up for a stellar 2015!
Join me for this interactive web series that will help strengthen and build your network as well as grow your biz!
It’s officially fall and I don’t know anyone who isn’t interested in learning a few new tips or tricks for boosting their brand and growing their business between now and the end of the year. So, I invite you to invest in yourself and your business by getting ready for a fantastic 2015!
Last month, I kicked off a new series of free 45 min webcasts titled, Making Connections Matter. The schedule for these business-boosting learning sessions is below, so be sure to register early because there are only 25 spots available for each of these interactive web-based sessions which will include time for a Q&A portion at the end.
10 Things You Can and Should Do on LinkedIn Each Week Wed, Sept 24th noon (PDT) The Bare Minimum: 7 Social Media Basics for Small Business Thu, Oct 23rd noon (PDT) Surviving the Holiday Mixer: Practical Networking Tips for Enjoying the Social Season, with Special Guest, Branding Guru Maria Ross of Red Slice Wed, Nov 12 noon (PST)
- 7 Tips for Deepening Your Connections to Your Network for a Prosperous 2015 Wed, Dec 3 noon (PST)
I hope you’ll join me for one or more of these sure-to-be FUN sessions and please feel free to reach out directly with any questions.
All the best,
P.S. Don’t forget — to grab your spot just complete the form below and you’ll receive an invite to join me for the
first NEXT Making Connections Matter session on Wed, Sept 24th Nov 12, 2014!
If you weren’t able to join us for our June Afternoon Snack & Give Back learning series, or missed 1 or more of the live Hangouts, you can now view all 3 of our business-boosting sessions from this popular web series whenever you like! Want a sneak peek or reminder? Just click below:
The learning topics range from how to not hate yourself the morning after a networking event, to putting an end to playing it small in business as well as how to make the most of your presence on LinkedIn and remembering names via the Name Game. You’ll also find some lively Q&A at the end of each video.
Don’t miss this chance to get exclusive access to the 3 Afternoon Snack & Give Backs we recorded during our June Hangouts by registering via the form below
and you’ll receive a password to access an exclusive video album on Vimeo containing all 3 videos!
Afternoon Snack & Give Backs are brought to you by Sandy Jones-Kaminski of Bella Domain Media, and Nikki Rausch of Sales Maven, June 2014.
And if you’d like to share these videos with your friends, clients or social networks, we’re A-OK with that, but ask that you please point them to this blog post, so they can register HERE and get access future webcasts soon. Thank you.
I hope you enjoy the Afternoon Snack & Give Back Hangout videos on Vimeo and look forward to connecting with you again soon!Read More