Be Professional, Make It Personal: Online Networking with a Personal Brand
There was a time when we were able to separate our personal from our professional lives – but these days, the two have become intertwined.
New Ways to Network
Just as the proliferation of the Internet has changed the way we work, it’s also altered the way we network. Many jobs now offer the flexibility – and occasional pain – of working from anywhere, which has blurred the boundaries between work and personal time. In the same sense, online social networking has merged our understanding of what is personal and what is professional.
Me = Brand
These days, everyone is their own brand. We are constantly marketing ourselves online, curating the photos we post and the opinions we express to create our personal brand. And while we may sometimes wish to separate work from play, the fact that we have given ourselves an online presence makes that nearly impossible.
Far from this being a negative thing, however, this merged presence actually allows us to network more effectively.
A Well-Rounded Person
Merging the personal with the professional lets us present a fuller picture of ourselves to our network. As a result, it gives us more opportunities to reach out and connect with people, because we’re talking about a broader range of things.
We no longer have to just talk about work when connecting with colleagues or customers. Reaching out only when there’s industry news can sometimes fail to engage people, and we now have the option to connect on other things.
Having something different and interesting to talk about, such as a favourite wine or a new vacation spot, helps make our interactions memorable. It also lets us connect on a more emotional level, which is always more valuable for business – everyone wants to do business with people they like.
Sharing personal interests allows us to connect with others on theirs. If we see that someone has posted about something we like, even if it’s not necessarily related to work, we can reach out to them by engaging with their content. This can be as informal as liking their post, or can be taken to the next level, such as sending them a related article. Either way, it’s an excellent way of staying top-of-mind over a length of time.
When we’re finally ready to do business with someone, having a history of these informal interactions can go a long way. They help to build a relationship, or can keep one from fading.
When it comes to networking online, creating a strong personal brand will always open up opportunities.
What are some other benefits of creating a strong personal brand? Share your ideas in the comments below!