Networking is scary in 2023, are you struggling to develop an efficient and effective strategy with the aims of networking yourself or your brand to potential employers or consumers? If so, don’t worry, use this article as a guide on what it takes to be a great networker in this new era of building a brand.
Social Media Networking v. In-Person Networking
The world of networking has drastically changed in the last 25 years given the introduction of social media – and even more so in the last few years, now that everyone is much more experienced using social media. However, as great of a tool that social media is, it is still just as important as networking in-person – this could be at business events, job fairs, or maybe even volunteer work. Anyway to get your name and brand to an interested audience is the most important goal to achieve. Social media is a great tool because it speeds up the accessibility to network as long as you have some form of technology, provides an infinite amount of ways to network, much quicker exposure to an audience, tracks data to help inform future decisions, and access to a much a larger and broader audience. On the other hand, in-person networking, offers an experience that social media just can’t replicate. This would be the real and natural relationships or conversations that are created by actually attending different events, getting to know people on a personal and professional level. It is difficult to connect on a personal level using social media. In-person networking leads to a more rememberable connection between two different people which makes it more likely to stay in the person’s mind for a longer period of time. Successful and effective networking requires a balanced collaboration of these two methods.
Social Media Is Your Friend
At this point, you have probably already noticed the massive amount of businesses and even individuals, such as influencers, athletes and celebrities, promoting and networking their brand on social media to a large audience. This is becoming much more popular now that we as a society have gotten deeper into the technology-driven world. Just about everyone, today, has at least one account on at least a single platform as long as they have access to technology, meaning social media can reach just about everyone. Smart Insights, presented research done by Global WebIndex, which found that more than half of the entire world uses social media (59%), averaging two and a half hours everyday. Another statistic, this time done by sproutsocial, reported that 72% of company executives say that their companies use social media to make informed decisions. These statistics show the importance of being active consistently on social media – the audience and connection that social media can provide is too powerful to ignore. People and businesses have figured out how to use this tool as a friend to assist with their brand development – be consistent, relevant, and authentic.
Don’t Be Afraid To Put Yourself Out There
As great of a tool that social media is, you should never rely solely on it. While developing a brand or presence on social media – you should also focus on physically getting yourself out into world and in front of people that could be interested in what you have to offer. A study done by Forbes, concluded that out of 750 business executives surveyed, 77% say that it is easier to read someone’s facial and body expressions in person. This study indicates why it is important to also put yourself out there where you can really express your true personality and allow people to truly know who you are, instead of just a profile on social media. You will slow down the development of your brand if you get so wrapped up in the social media aspect of networking – need a true balance between the two. Focus on finding events or really anything where you will find a gathering of people that can relate to your brand and make a goal to develop at least one in-person professional relationship at each gathering or event. Some events that come to mind are job fairs, volunteer work, promotional events, meetings, or conferences. Be confident, be assertive, and make friends.
Authenticity and Transparency Sells
Authenticity and transparency are two elements of networking that build trust and integrity with the people that are interested in your brand or content. People want to know what they are involving themselves with and want to avoid controversy. Losing the trust of a core base that you have already gained can be detrimental to the overall development of the brand and content. You want your consumers or followers to trust what you are telling them instead of having a feeling of doubt that you won’t live up to what you are promising. Goal setting and achieving goals will help build authenticity and transparency. Oberlo presented a study done by Stackla, reporting that 88% of consumers believe that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like. Another study they presented, this time done by Salsify, found that 46% of consumers would choose to pay more for brands that they find trustworthy. The last statistic that they present is done by Accenture Strategy, finding that 66% of consumers believe transparency to be one of the most attractive traits a brand can have. People don’t want to be surprised when they are investing their time or money into a brand. A successful brand is one that is real, relevant, and true to what they promote themselves to be. Consumers will be angry and upset if a company they trust engages in suspect behavior, for example, if a social media platform fails to protect their users private data. Be authentic and transparent with how you carry yourself and keep your content focused on the authenticity of your brand.
Focus on Setting Goals and Achieving Them
Goals provide the framework or guideline of actions that you will undergo to gain the attention of interested prospects. Setting goals will create structure in how you plan to deliver your content and network yourself and your brand to a target audience. Goals are also very beneficial to developing a brand because it will generate motivation and a driving factor that will push you toward achieving the next goal that you have set. Goals keep the strategy continuous and consistent. Achieving these set goals will also increase your authenticity and transparency because it can act as an example of you sticking to your promise or words.
Always Be Confident and Know What You Bring To The Table
Quite possibly the most important key to networking is to always be confident. Think about it as the A.B.C. method, Always Be Confident, remembering this acronym will serve you better than anything else that I’ve discussed thus far. Confidence is a trait that, if you have it, can take you as far as the sky is the limit. But if you don’t have it, then it could possibly be the reason you don’t succeed. An individual or group of people can tell if someone isn’t confident as soon as they meet them and this will alter their decision on whether to trust that individual or not. Would you trust someone and invest in them, if you could tell they were not confident in their brand, knowledge, or just in themselves? I believe the answer for most people would be a resounding no and I wouldn’t blame them. Also, just as important, knowing what you can bring to the table will help you tremendously. This will allow you to go directly to the people that you believe you can provide something of value for, instead of wasting your time and someone else’s time for something you can’t provide to them. You will also find it much easier and effective to engage with someone when you are confident compared to if you are shy and clueless. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there.
All Forms of Networking Matter
Networking can be done in many different ways and they all matter if you want to achieve a successful brand. Social media networking speeds up the pace since you are reaching a much larger audience. In-person networking delivers more realistic and natural conversations, allowing people to remember you more than just seeing you on social media. It allows people to understand who you really are as a person instead of just how you represent yourself on social media. In-person networking gives people the authentic aspect of yourself whereas on social media, most people are putting on an act or show in order to earn your attention. No matter how you choose to network yourself or your brand, authenticity, transparency, goal-setting, and confidence are the main key indicators in a successful networker.
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