I attended a business to business networking event the other night. It was what you might expect, a bunch of professionals mingling about, looking to make the “right” connection. I met a number of fascinating individuals, all with varied backgrounds. The most memorable person I met was Ann. Her name tag said “DIVA” in big, bold letters. Full of energy, she engaged in an efficient fact-finding exercise with three of us at the same time; she handed us her business card (which is how I learned her name was Ann) and then, Poof! She was off to meet someone else. Ann left a lasting impression, but not in a positive way.
In today’s economy, there are a number of displaced project management professionals, all vying for similar opportunities. How do you stand out when networking?
Did you know 70-80% of jobs are secured as a result of effective networking? Benchmarks suggest that other methodologies don’t have as nearly as successful results. Statistics shows recruiters place 15%, ad/job postings a meager 10% and direct company contact fills a paltry 5% of open positions. In today’s economy, you cannot afford to network poorly.
Networking is all about promoting your brand identity. Your brand is all about knowing who you are and what you offer. You need a brand identify before you can effectively market yourself to others. To create your brand identity, you need should ask yourself a few key questions:
- What’s my reputation?
- For what have I been recognized or rewarded for?
- What do managers and colleagues say about me?
- Am I the “go to” person?
Practice your elevator pitch before your next networking event. Can you develop a 30-second commercial? Make sure it answers the following three questions:
- Who am I?
- What are my differentiators?
- What is my value proposition?
Networking events present great opportunities to promote your brand. Remember to be authentic, have a positive attitude, convey confidence and join in the conversation. Do not misrepresent yourself, criticize your colleagues or over-explain a job loss. If you engage in social media, never post content that can come back to haunt you.
Networking opportunities are everywhere! Aside from family and friends, think of your neighbors, your church, your doctor, lawyer, CPR or broker. Don’t forget professional associations, volunteer activities, civic associations, schools or alumni groups. In other words, tell everyone you know…
Oh, and don’t promote yourself as a DIVA. Ann has that covered.
Lisa DiTullio, Principal, Lisa DiTullio & Associates, LLC. www.lisaditullio.com