Heidi Winney Heidi provides career and executive coaching for managers and professionals of varied backgrounds and industry sectors, including members of the Australian Institute of Management and the Macquarie Graduate School of Management's Alumni. Following senior corporate Human Resources roles, she established 'Strategic Career Development' in 1995 focusing on her real interests and passion - assisting individuals to create strategies to achieve their goals. To find out more view Heidi's full bio or email Heidi at winday@bigpond.net.au

How to market “Your Brand” through Networking

By Heidi Winney, Strategic Career Management

Do you know yet what the “features and benefits” of your Brand are? Do you know where you want to apply your strengths, your areas of expertise and your transferable skills (the “features and benefits”)? Before you can create your own employment opportunity you need to be able to answer the all important question “why should I hire you”?

In my previous blog “Your Brand – Your Future Career” I mentioned that it’s important for you to know your value proposition because it will make you more competitive in the non-advertised market. You need to be able to confidently talk about yourself in a networking meeting so that someone who’s in a “hiring” position can easily make a link between their business challenges and your ability to deliver on those challenges.

How have you approached networking?
Like many others, you probably thought that networking is attending lots of functions and asking everyone you know if they can “let you know if they hear of a job”! And you’re thinking that you’re asking “for favours”! If you’ve approached it in that way, you’re inadvertently asking others to find a job for you when they won’t know exactly what you’re looking for, what you’ve achieved in previous roles, or what your skills and expertise are. They’ll feel embarrassed if they suggest a role that’s well below your capabilities or one that you really don’t want – and you’ll feel embarrassed about not following up on such roles!

Many people, if you approach them in that way will feel uncomfortable being asked such a question because mostly, they can’t help you! They may feel uncomfortable when you next speak with them, and you may feel somewhat hesitant in picking up the phone because you’ve not heard from them! What we know is that this approach doesn’t seem to work (except in rare cases) and so many people only look at the advertised market because they believe it’s easier!

What might be a better approach in networking?

Networking conversations should only be started when you “know what you want and know what you have to offer”.
It’s about asking for information, advice and help when researching the industries and companies of your choice, with a view to developing your career.

“Getting known” is the essence of networking – it’s essential during the process of finding what you’re really looking for versus what’s available on the advertised market at the time! Trying to uncover the unadvertised jobs is the challenge, and the research phase is particularly important if you want to create the best possible career opportunity for yourself. Many networking meetings with Hiring Managers have ended up in companies creating a job for someone because they were impressed with “the features and benefits of their Brand”! Why not you!

Expanding the list of people who know of you will greatly help when they hear of an opportunity in their own companies or somewhere else in their industry sector. They’ll know of some of your achievements because you’ve told them during a networking meeting and they’ll know what you’re “researching” because that’s why you met with them!

What I’ve described above sounds reasonably straight forward, but it’s not easy to do on your own. You might want to practise such a conversation with a close friend or an experienced career coach, before you use important contacts to practice on!

Some questions you should ask yourself before networking:

  • What will you want more information about (research), eg industries and their challenges, or companies which you’ve read about in the media - making sure you don’t turn it into “job search”?
  • Do you know what you would like your next career step to be?
  • Do you know what you have to offer a potential employer and do you have a strategic marketing plan to help you get there?
  • Do you have a list of questions to ask a networking partner who’s giving you 15 – 20 minutes of their time? What will you ask about?
  • How do you start a networking conversation – do you have a powerful “introduction statement” that includes some achievements and strengths?
  • Do you know which companies and/or industry sectors interest you most, ie is it the finance/banking industry, or the FMCG industry that attracts you, and why?

Has anyone ever refused to help you if you asked for advice about something as important as your next career step and how your experience and skills might fit into such a company or industry sector? Most people enjoy giving advice and are flattered by being thought worthy of giving help and advice!

If you, like so many people with whom I interact on a daily basis, had some less than memorable experiences with recruitment consultants, why not try creating your own opportunities through networking?

Perhaps you’ve faced challenges with recruitment consultants in your job search and have found a better way along the lines of what I’ve described above. If so, we would love to hear what has worked well and what has worked not so well with your networking so we can learn from your experience!

Written by: Heidi Winney, Career and Executive Coach – Strategic Career Development.

  • Digg!
  • Add to del.icio.us
  • Bookmark to magnolia
  • Bookmark to Spurl
  • Bookmark to StumbleUpon
  • Bookmark on Blinklist
  • Bookmark on Simpy

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

The Authors