Posted on: November 11, 2020
- A substantial network is a powerful tool for driving your professional success.
- Regardless of the platform you’re using, it’s important to apply the “know, like, trust” principle to grow your network.
- Approaching new connections in a selfless way will make you a more genuine, effective networker.
When I was growing up, my favorite time of the day wasn’t recess or dessert — it was the moment when the mail carrier would arrive at our house to drop off mail for our family. This was in the years before Amazon Prime, so I wasn’t waiting for overnighted toys or games. Nope! It was all about letters from my pen pals.
Thanks to a program coordinated by Highlights Magazine, I was connected as a little girl with pen pals all over the world.
To this day, I get a thrill from receiving handwritten letters — which is one of the reasons I still have pen pals as an adult. But writing letters is about more than just the fun of a good mail day. It’s also a great tool for business and networking! My story of learning to love the mail as a child, and the way it’s impacted my career today is one of many personal anecdotes I share in my new book, “Grow Your Audience, Grow Your Brand.”
The book is a window into how I’ve built my network and established my brand and the strategies you can use to do the same. I’m so excited to share more details with you on Episode 93 of The PR MavenⓇ Podcast.
Years ago, one of my mentors introduced me to the idea of cornerstone content, and that’s exactly what you’re getting with “Grow Your Audience, Grow Your Brand.” Cornerstone content is any piece of content that gives you the opportunity to share your unique perspective and expertise. It can be a blog post, an infographic, a book, a podcast episode… anything you use to show what you know and what makes your approach different from others.
Building a network — using a variety of traditional and digital strategies — is at the core of everything I do, and it’s the focus of my new book. Here are a few key lessons I share about how to network effectively and why it’s worth your while.
1. It always comes back to the ‘know, like, trust’ principle
My colleagues in the PR industry and I talk a lot about the principle of “know, like, trust.” Here’s how it works: since business happens between people, you need to establish a connection with anyone who you are hoping to bring on as a client or connect with professionally in some other way.
The first step to making meaningful connections in your network is to find ways to allow your audience to get to know you! The same goes for your brand. If you want people to work with and support your brand, they need to understand what it’s really about. Once they know more about your brand, they’ll realize just how much there is to like about it… which will ultimately lead to the trust required for them to do business with you.
Throughout my time in PR, I’ve learned to adapt to the changing media landscape so that I can help my clients apply the “know, like, trust” principle regardless of the specific platform. There are best practices for everything from face-to-face meetings to online content.
2. Your network is your net worth
This is a nice wordplay, but it’s also a fact. Bottom line: the more people who know you or know about you, the more successful you’ll be. I’m a firm believer in the power of a vast network to help you build a thriving career.
It’s important to remember, though, that your network only works for you if you give others a reason to know, like, and trust you (see above!). When you build relationships in such a way that people think highly of you, they are more likely to vouch for you, sharing contacts and referring business your way.
The perfect combination of proactive networking and consistent performance will push your net worth to the next level.
3. Networking isn’t actually about you!
Yes, networking has a benefit for your bottom line, but if you’re going to do it successfully, you have to come at it from a selfless place. Taking this approach will make for more meaningful, authentic connections, which will, in turn, yield better results for the business.
Whenever I have the opportunity to meet someone new — whether in a personal or professional context — I start by asking them lots of questions about themselves. Instead of jumping right into the work I do and how I might be able to support them with PR or marketing, I ask them about what they do for work and what they enjoy doing. But I don’t stop there! I listen to their answers intently.
When I’m an active, engaged listener, I find it easier to remember details of these initial networking conversations so that when I circle back to that person, I can connect with them on a personal level. If, for example, someone tells me that they love gardening, I’ll check in and see how their garden is progressing in my first follow-up email. When you make those kinds of connections, people will remember your name when they need what you offer!
This is based on episode 93 of The PR Maven® Podcast, a podcast hosted by Nancy Marshall. Weekly interviews feature industry leaders, top executives, media personalities and online influencers to give listeners a peek into the world of public relations, marketing and personal branding. Subscribe through Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.