A friend of mine recently moved to another state and has been courageous in already signing up for some HR-specific networking events. She asked for my advice and the first thing I reminded her was that most people are uncomfortable networking and that she is not alone. I do not perceive myself as an expert, though it helps when I remember that many of the people I will be meeting are just as wary as I am of this seemingly forced opportunity to connect as I am.
Before you go, it is critical to have thought hard about your personal brand and what you most intend to communicate to others. McNally & Speak (2003) write:
“Your [personal] brand takes shape as a result of your ability to make what you do distinctive, relevant, and consistent.”
They have a great way of helping you think about what you want to project by developing a personal brand model.
You begin by identifying the different roles that you play for others in your life. You can keep your roles specific to a professional capacity, though I have found that if I think of my personal and professional lives together, it helps me maintain better balance in life, particularly in keeping my most important relationships protected and prioritized.
This part of the exercise is where you consider how you deliver your roles. These are like your standards of service. What level of performance can others expect from you? Keep in mind that one of the best ways to build a brand is to be distinct – so think about how you are unique in what you deliver to others.
Last, consider how you interact with others. Since a brand ultimately comes down to a relationship a company (or a person) has with a customer (or a person with whom they interact), the way we will relate to others becomes an important aspect of our personal brand.
I suggest that before you attend that networking event, job interview, or annual planning meeting that you reflect on these three elements of your personal brand. You can consider buying Be Your Own Brand: A Breakthrough Formula for Standing Out from the Crowd to go through their exercises and to solidify your approach, or just get out a piece of paper and begin by writing down your roles, standards and style.
While working on my doctorate, one of our professors, Vance Caesar, had us go through this exercise. It was quite revealing and I highly recommend you spend some time articulating your brand in this way, as well.