How to Network for Success – Ways to effectively promote your personal brand – By Lauren Eardley

In this day and age it is important to set yourself apart from the competition whether you are a jobseeker or a business. Establishing your brand and how you would like to market your brand is a great way to do that.

I recently attended a FINSIA networking event: ‘How to Network for Career Success’. The aim of the evening was to give young finance professionals the tools to deliver their personal brand articulately and learn the etiquette of networking. Tim Rossi, one of the founding members of Macquarie, facilitated the evening and shared his knowledge earned from years of success within the industry.

By attending networking events myself I can relate to approaching another person or group and it can often be the most difficult or nerve-wracking part of networking. So how can we gain this confidence and experience to deliver our brand in a positive way?

One of the great things I have found about dedicated networking events is that they usually make you go and talk to other people one way or another. Tim at FINSIA allowed us to introduce ourselves to another individual, discuss who we are, where we work and what our specialty is.

I also learned that it is key to focus on your expertise and future rather than your past when talking about yourself and your brand. We were encouraged to discuss the challenges we face in our current role and how we aim to overcome them. This certainly made an interesting conversation and made me realise that you never know how someone might be able to help you or even provide a different perspective!

After we had our one-on-one conversations we were advised to join another couple and introduce the colleague that you just met. This interesting activity really tested your ability to engage through listening to your partner when they told you about themselves and how much information you absorbed from that conversation.

I know the first time I had to make the introduction I couldn’t even recall my partner’s job title! It is important to remember that networking is not all about you, it is about relationships and connecting for mutual benefit. While trying to memorise and rehearse your elevator pitch is important, listening is also vital to establish not only more about the person but also their needs, especially if you can provide a service to meet their needs! Luckily I had another chance to practice my introductions.  One of the most important mediums of getting your name and contact details out there (and remembered) is with a business card. Rossi stressed the importance of using business cards (even if it is just a personal card for jobseekers) and how to give and receive them. When somebody gives you their business card it is important you give them respect and actually look at it; take in all the information. Then follow it up with a LinkedIn connection, thank you email or follow up coffee. It’s respectful and courteous and you would like to hope that they do the same when you hand out your business card in future.

Another pivotal part of the follow up is to make sure that your social media profiles sell your business brand. Make sure your Facebook and / or Twitter account privacy settings are up-to-date. Remember that first appearances are important so also ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and matches how you describe yourself at networking events.

The evening wrapped up by turning to the person on your right and discussing what you learned from the event. The key lessons I learned was the importance of practicing my elevator pitch; to make it consistent, know my specialty (skills, attributes etc.) and allowing time to listen to others rather than focusing on ‘you’. By practicing these skills at networking events you too can make the connections you need to take your career to the next step.

Have you been to a networking event recently? If so, what did you learn from the experience? Did you find there were areas that you needed to improve on?