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How to Build your network and personal brand, online and in the real world

Do you sometimes wish you could share with people about your talents and ideas more confidently? Networking is an essential skill which will help you take control of your career online and in the real world.

It is the process by which individuals build and maintain a professional network community where connections are mutually utilized for personal, professional, or business development.

Networking gives you the space to meet like-minded people, share information, seek out business opportunities, develop your career or even grow your business. It happens both formally and informally every day and anywhere.

Some activities that involve networking include socializing with friends and colleagues, interacting with strangers in the elevator for instance, attending networking events, engaging with a social media platform such as LinkedIn and Twitter and being part of a professional association.

One thing to put in consideration is the fact that effective networking requires planning and will be time consuming. Establishing strong relationships built on trust is a process and needs careful planning and a great foundation. How much time you can invest in your professional networks will determine how effective they are. In the world of networking, you will get out what you put in.

In today’s digital world, online networking has become very critical. Most people make use of platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter for quick and effective digital networking.

When networking, it is important to pay attention to your networks even as self-market. The other thing to consider in both face-to-face networking and digital networking is the fact that first impressions matter. To create a great first impression when networking, it is vital that you consider the following factors;

  • Minimize stress and build your confidence when networking
  • In case it is a networking event, conduct a little research to know in advance who will be in attendance and find out as much as you can about them using tools like LinkedIn.
  • Always arrive early, whether it is face-to-face or Microsoft Teams. This sends out the right impression.
  • Network one-to-one rather than joining a big group, because it is easier and again you may leave a lasting impression.
  • Ask open-ended questions that elicits a detailed answer to avoid those uncomfortable silences.

The Elevator Pitch

Have you ever met someone you think could help you further your business or career goals?

One thing you may need to seize that vital opportunity is a well-crafted elevator pitch. You want to make a great first impression and get across as clearly and concisely as can be.

A well-crafted elevator pitch should explain who you are and what you do, what your specialism, product or service is and your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

Your USP is what makes you unique and a cut above the rest. A great pitch needs to be founded on your key strengths and what you can offer to your potential employers that others cannot. This can be anything from specialized knowledge or talent, or even level of education or years of experience.  

Think through what your USP is and begin to put it into words.

Next, use your USP as a starting point to plan and write your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch should be brief – ideally 30 seconds; no longer than 60 – and should be a persuasive speech that displays your passion, ignites interest in you and makes you visible and memorable.

Tips for planning your elevator pitch

  • Reflect on the activities you have already completed, such as the Strengthsfinder, SWOT and DiSC analysis and your values.
  • Identify your USP
  • Make it interesting and sound enthusiastic
  • Draft and edit then rehearse until it doesn’t sound rehearsed
  • Ensure it is under 60 seconds and it makes you visible and memorable, then practise, practise, practise!

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