Claire Celsi is a public relations practitioner in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Everyone is busy. Busy with everyday routines and tasks at work. Hauling the kids back and forth. Meeting daily obligations. Get up and do it again. Rinse, repeat. The daily grind is called the daily grind for a reason.
It's so easy to lose sight of the big picture. Everyone needs to build and maintain a personal brand. Over the course of a 40+ year career, you're bound to run into situations where it will come in handy. The best part of a personal brand is using it to help yourself during those times in your career where things may not have gone according to plan.
Being anonymous is foolhardy. It only works well for those who are in the witness protection program, the NSA, or perhaps a private investigator. Everyone else - guess what? Slap a smile on, grab a nametag and start shaking hands. The worst thing you can hear from another person is "Oh, I've heard of your company, but have never heard your name."
In fact, people who network and (dare I say) - promote themselves a bit - actually end up benefitting the companies they work for and contribute to the bottom line in concrete and measurable ways.
Networking can feel like a luxury (or a burden) if you're a busy person. Or just downright impossible if you don't have a good support system at work or at home. How do you build and maintain a personal brand slowly but surely? Here are some tips:
- Tell your spouse/kids/business partners what you're up to: If you set a goal to attend a networking event twice a month, let people know that you're trying to be more visible and meet some new people. That way, if you leave work a little early - or are late for dinner - they'll know what you're trying to accomplish.
- Use social media: Network 24-7 by building a strong digital presence. You can't go to every networking event, but you can create engaging profiles and content online that people will find when they simply Google your name.
- Set a goal: What's your ultimate goal? More friends? New business for your company? Meeting peers in your industry? Think about it ahead of time.
- Prioritize: Not every networking event will be equal, and most likely, there will be plenty to choose from. Pick the ones that will be most beneficial based on the goal that you've set.
- Shake it up a little. Find a fun friend and attend a social event together. Pick an event where neither one of you are likely to know anyone. Make a goal of meeting five new people each.
There are times in life to sit it out, and times to get in there and play. Networking is not a frivilous activity. It's a "must do" for every professional who cares about the way the public perceives them. Your "network" is the most important asset you have.