People who brand themselves powerfully earn more money and enjoy more success. So says Helen Nicholson, director of The Networking Company. Speaking at the UCT Graduate School of Business recently, Nicholson, dubbed "the Networking Queen" by clients, said that, once you understand your unique personal brand, networking is the best way for communicating it to others.
"Networking events are so important," said Nicholson. "If you avoid networking opportunities or invitations to events, you run the risk of becoming invisible."
Networking is the vehicle for transporting your brand to the world. But there are a few things to note about networking before entering into it.
Networking is about others
"People often make the mistake that networking is about finding and getting to know as many people as possible that can help 'me'," said Nicholson. "But, in fact, the strongest networkers in the world are those people who show interest in others and who are the first to offer them something, rather than ask for something."
She said that it is about coming from a place of abundance rather than of scarcity. Forget about what people can do for you and rather find ways in which you can help them.
Diversity is the key
It takes six years to build a good network, according to Nicholson, and is a long-term career strategy.
"Networking is wise farming, not hunting, and the more diverse the network, the more powerful.
"Never under-estimate people," said Nicholson. "Your network should be as diverse as possible, incorporating people from various backgrounds, doing various things. You want a large pool of talent and skills to harness."
Networking is an art
"People often ask me how to approach an event to maximise networking," said Nicholson. "It takes two things: preparation and authenticity.
"There are a few tricks you can learn and practice that will improve your networking, but it is very important to stay genuine if you want people to want to know you – people can sense when you’re being authentic or not.
According to Nicholson the most important stage of networking is the first impression. Research by Jerker Denrell at the Stanford Graduate School of Business demonstrates that giving someone multiple opportunities to see and experience different sides of you is very critical for furthering your career.
The first impression then either ensures that the other person will seek out additional opportunities to learn more about you, or totally destroys their interest all together.
Article continues on page two: seven key techniques to improve your chances of putting across a good first impression...