By Anna McDermott
Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven®, interviewed me for her podcast – I was in Utah where I work remotely for Marshall Communications – and we discussed all the ways you can build your brand – in person and online – and a major theme that came up was the intersection of social media and in-person networking. Nancy firmly believes that today it is vital you do both and do them both with intention.
I have moved with my family three times in the past eight years – from Maine to Ohio, then Texas and now Utah. Networking is something I have become quite good at. It is a necessity for most people to make new friends wherever they go, but as a mother to young children, I also had to make friends for them. I would go to playgrounds and chat up other parents with kids of similar ages or talk with parents from the preschool at birthday parties, hoping for a connection to emerge. In my experience, someone must make the first move and you can’t wait around for others to do it for you.
When I was house hunting in Ohio, a mom with a baby about my daughter’s age overheard me talking with my Realtor in a café and started a conversation with me about good neighborhoods to look at. We exchanged numbers and I met up with her once I had moved. My new friend had heard about a moms’ club and we went to a meeting to learn more. This was totally out of my comfort zone – I wasn’t a joiner, always a bit of a loner – but that moms’ club ended up being the best networking meeting I ever attended. I soon met wonderful, lifelong friends and had activities for my kids to enjoy, as well. It was a great experience for me, and I can’t really say I’m not a joiner anymore. If anything, I am someone who creates things that others join, all because a stranger took the chance and spoke to me in a café.
In-person networking, whether with personal or business goals in mind, is a great way to strengthen your brand. Your personality is best shown in real life, not on a computer screen. You can be your most authentic self in person, as you don’t have time to carefully craft your message, like you do on social media platforms. Nancy said, “If you are in alignment with your own true self, you will attract the people who belong in your life and repel those who don’t.” This is the power of a strong brand: the ability to attract the right clients and customers. You can build your brand online, too, but it’s easy to blur the truth with inauthenticity.
It’s important to be as genuine as you can on social media platforms for your brand. You want to come across as close to your real self as possible – don’t polish everything to a brilliant shine – you will attract more followers by your authenticity, not by an overly processed version of yourself. I post some real-life moments on my social media platforms and they aren’t always of perfect days. I like to show some disappointments or times when life dealt me lemons and I wasn’t going to make lemonade. I believe that being honest promotes trustworthiness and that is a vital element of a strong brand.
The PR Maven® Podcast is presented by Marshall Communications, creator of The Marshall Plan® strategic process. The Marshall Plan is a fully customized document using our 65 proprietary steps and leads to a playbook for your success. If you think your business or organization would be a candidate for a Marshall Plan, you can take our Marshall Plan quiz to find out. Visit Marshallpr.com/quiz.