Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re either an entrepreneur, freelancer or a professional interested in learning how to present yourself as an expert in your perspective field. Recently I had the opportunity to speak on a social media panel in Connecticut for a young professional organization entitled M.O.D Success and one of the main questions posed was how do I brand myself to get recognition as an expert in my field. Many professionals don’t realize the potential Search Engine Marketing and Social Media have as a branding tool for marketing yourself online and to manage your online reputation. They also do not know how to leverage the many tools to help maximize their online visibility amongst the experts.
The process of branding oneself is much easier than many may think, it takes some strategic effort and planning but once in place is a great asset to you and your brand. Whether you are looking for a new job, starting your own business or consulting one of the first things people do is research you online. Below are key steps on how to get started.
- Blogging/Podcast – Having a blog or podcast is essential and is one of the best ways to control and manage the content you would like to convey to future employers, colleagues, future customers and others. First step would to be to write a compelling bio stating what your expertise is, your experience as well as where you see yourself in the future. Make sure the content reflects your expertise in your field and your interests.
- Join Professional Networks – Linkedin is currently one of the most powerful professional business networks that you can utilize to build yourself as a brand and network with other like minded professionals. LinkedIn allows you to have an online resume displaying your expertise, as well as accomplishments, and Colleagues and Business partners can also write reviews giving testament to your great work. It also has great forums allowing you to answer questions directly correlated to your area of expertise and become known as an expert. But don’t limit yourself to just LinkedIn there are many networks both on and offline that can help you grow your brand.
- Branded Pages on Social Networks – Join social networking sites like FaceBook, Twitter, Google Plus, Meetup.com and others to stand out among colleagues, experts, and those looking for valuable information that you offer pertaining to your expertise. Using FaceBook and Twitter, you can gain followers and fans. By feeding information via status updates and providing links to your blog you can spread the word about your brand. Utilize Meetup.com to meet with other professionals and colleagues in your field or create your own meetup group that meets regularly.
- Emails – Something as simple as an email signature with your title and a link to your social networks and blogs can catch the attention of those that you interact with frequently. Also send out some of your recent blog posts to friends, family and colleagues that you think would be interested in the content and ask them to pass it along to individuals they think would be interested as well. This is an easy way to get referrals and new traffic to your site.
- Be Yourself – The most important advice when branding yourself is to be authentic. What differentiates you from others is yourself, no one can bring what you have to the table better than you can. Your uniqueness is what will set you apart from the world. So say what you feel, hold on to your convictions, but at the same time be smart about what you put out there. If you are not sure how a statement will come across to your audience think about another way it can be said or don’t say it all. Not everything you think of needs to be said.
On Tuesday I headed over to the Pretty World Inc. after work event at Velour Lounge. It was not too far from my job so I took a nice walk to the venue. I was quite excited because I have been trying to attend @CarriePink’s Workshop sessions for a couple of months now but they always seemed to have conflicted with another project I was working on or some personal matter.
So I finally get to the event and to my surprise *crickets* no one was there. I walk over to one of the workers at the lounge and ask if there was an event going on here just to confirm that I had the right place and she confirmed my beliefs. So I take a seat and wait for people to come and past the time by checking my Lifeline aka My Blackberry to see what everyone is up to. This was my first time getting to a networking event early, I usually go an hour into it and people are already well into their conversations. Getting to the event early turned out to be a great advantage for me, especially due to the way I network.
Shortly after Carrie came in and sat right beside me and in all honesty I was wondering why did she sit right here when there were all these other spaces around but it made me uncomfortable yet comfortable at the same time. This totally reverted me back to Kenji Summer’s statement that prompted The Art of Networking: You Have to Make Them Uncomfortable. We immediately started talking about just random things that had nothing do with what either of us did professionally and I hadn’t mentioned that I already knew about Pretty World Inc. and the great things they are doing within the community and that her reputation proceeded her, but I wanted to form my own impression and opinions.
Getting to the event early provided me with an experience and advantage that I’ve never had when networking. I am an observer, I like to settle into my settings and not just jump right into things but I did not really have a chance to do that during this event and it was a welcoming change. Arriving early allowed me the opportunity to get a start on my process and made me more comfortable with my environment. It allowed me to relax and open myself up to meeting more people and gave me first dibs on meeting almost everyone in the room as well as the brains behind Pretty World Inc.
Never had I been so excited for Monday
June 14th to come this past week. Two weeks ago I saw that the invite for Cocktails with Belle go out on Twitter and I was quick to RSVP. I really wanted to interact with women with similar goals and values because I have been teetering back and forth lately on what I want to do with my business and usually surrounding myself with like minded people helps me make my decisions. I must say it wasn’t what I expected at all.
I made sure that I got out of work at exactly 6pm because Monday is usually my stay for 12 hours day. After work I rushed home to change to get ready for the event especially since it was my first one and second because I just started to fall in love with the blog recently which I must have read about half off in two days while at work, shh don’t tell. I had to look my best because I was going to be in a different environment than my usual day to day networking events, in my industry when we go for cocktails or drinks for networking it is pretty much come as you are so this was a refreshing change.
I have attended many networking events in the past but none quite like this which consisted of all women and not just any women successful women. After my last post about female entrepreneurs and their struggles when it comes to launching their own business I must admit I was a little discouraged but these women where quite the opposite of that, they did not seem to be struggling or dealing with many obstacles at all. There were what looked to be hundreds and hundreds of young professional women all experts in their own right in their line of business all there not only to meet Belle but to create these new relationships with other women who were striving for a similar goal.
While there I met many women who my friend Phil calls the Jane’s of All Trades, these are women who I like to call Triple Threats, have more than one occupation and do well in each of their roles. For example Dancer, Choreographer and Designer Tamika Haywood who was in attendance *Queue I’m Every Woman*, not to mention Shameika Bowman of Your Face My Canvas, Dreux Dougall Researcher/PA at PBS: Need to Know to name a few. Though I didn’t personally introduce myself to Demetria I was glad to be in her presence and ecstatic to see that one woman could bring that many women together in harmony. This opportunity was great for me and has ignited my fire and reaffirmed my beliefs in successful networking.
Check out some of the moments captured at the event Here
On Thursday June 3, I had the opportunity to attend an event called The Modern Day Matchmaker hosted by the real life Hitch, Paul Carrick Brunson and moderated by Nikki Nokes, author of “Maybe It’s You”
The event consisted of about 6 panelist from different walks of life who were all experts in their on right when it comes to relationship building. Lola Adesioye of LolaCreative.com, Demetria Lucas, Relationship Editor at Essence and Author of ABelleinBrooklyn.com, Damon Young aka “The Champ” of VerySmartBrothers.com, Anslem Samuel of NakedWithSocksOn.com and Jozen Cummings of UntilIGetMarried.com. As I am listening to each of them speak and give their thoughts on how to maintain relationships whether it be dating tips or how to keep your marriage together, I thought how can I apply this to business.
I believe a relationship whether business or personal are derived from the same basic concepts and are built in the same manner. At first sight there must be a spark a connection of some sorts that catches your attention this is why many say first impression is everything. Based off of the initial encounter is what usually determines whether or not a person plans on continuing to pursue or build said relationship. From my experience, during networking rarely do I ever feel that spark or feeling that many of the individuals are willing to commit to building a partnership and/or relationship. I find that many people are selfish and they come with an agenda to push their business and pitch you the entire time without engaging in a decent conversation. It is similar to the person who talks about themselves on the first date for the first 20 minutes. When speaking to someone you want to be exchanging thoughts and holding a conversation. People want to know a person is genuinely interested in what they have to say, this is when trust is formed and the bond grows stronger within the relationship. So when meeting for the first time you must remember to share ideas no one wants to be talked at they want to be talked to. Sounds like common knowledge but you would be surprised at how many people make this mistake.
The art of actual conversation is like speaking Sanskrit, not sure what that is, that is because it is a dead language. Engaging in dialogue seems to have died like chivalry with the increasing use of social networks. Ironically these networks have caused many to be less social and to hide behind their online persona’s they have created. Demetria made a great point at the event about individuals no longer even providing their true credentials such as a business card but ask you to follow them on twitter, look them up on Facebook or my #petpeeve Google Me. I am not sure when this became the norm but this is a no, no, when networking, if you cannot explain who you are and what you do in a concise manner there is a problem. Now I have no problem with following you on twitter, becoming a friend on Facebook and best believe I am going to Google you anyway to make sure you are who you say you are. Plus I engage in social networking I believe more so than the average person but I am also a firm believer of meeting in person especially when conducting business. You want to ensure that the person is serious about their craft and is a true representation of what they have been portraying especially if your only interaction is online.
Following up has also suffered tremendously in this new age of technology. Many people seem to have forgotten how to remind the person that they are still interested and enjoyed the conversation and interactions that they had. I say treat it like a second date, when interested you want to reach out let the person know, hey I had a good time and would like to exchange ideas some more. The objective of the second meeting is to continue to build a relationship and to ensure this is the right connection for you. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time by prolonging it so make sure to follow up in a timely matter at least a week from meeting the person. That way if either of you are not interested you can move forward to new opportunities without wondering what if.
Just a few
dating networking tips to remember when you go out to your next event.