Networking: 3 syllables that can strike fear into the hearts of people everywhere.
The problem: How to connect with influential people in your company and industry who can help you be more successful WITHOUT coming across like an annoying used car salesman (with all apologies to used car salespeople everywhere).
Well, you have to be a lion, not a mouse.
You have to be the ruler of your brand, your content, and your skills at connecting with others. By taking charge of all of these items, you’ll step into your own as the King or Queen of your Jungle.
You Have To Know Your Brand
How the Lion rules: The Lion’s brand is the center of its identity, and it continues to express itself in ways that support and extend the central promise of the King/Queen of the Jungle. Even at play, it is fearsome, awesome, and regal.
How the Mouse behaves: Not drawing too much attention to itself, the Mouse hides, scurries, and generally tries to get away with not being seen, heard, or leaving an impression.
Many people, myself included, have written about this before, but at some point you will need to determine what skills or mission that you want people to have in their heads when they think about you. What is it that makes you stand out from others? What do you offer to the world that is uniquely you? And why should people care?
Knowing the answers to these questions can give you a strong ‘center’ from which you can relate to other people, and give you powerful ways to talk about yourself and showcase your personal brand.
You Have To Own Your Content
How the Lion rules: Nothing sounds like the roar of the Lion. It’s an alarm that all creatures heed, and it announces the Lion’s intentions to everything within earshot.
How the Mouse behaves: Squeaking. Mostly unnoticed, and not really concerning anything in particular.
This isn’t about volume. It’s about being specific. You have to believe in your value, your point of view. You should push yourself to be unafraid to share it and make yourself visible. You can control the content about you and your viewpoint that is available online by putting in place the actions and safeguards to make sure that you stand out for the right reasons. You start with a great LinkedIn profile set up, naturally, and then you keep it updated, feeding it with interesting content for you and the people who might want to hear from you. If you think you need more space and freedom to express and share, then set up a blog to capture your thoughts and views.
Just don’t forget that you’ll want to revisit your privacy settings from time to time to make sure that you are not leaving anything public that should be private.
You Have To Connect With Others
How the Lion rules: The Lion has deep connections with its pride — and they are much more social than most other cats. They are deliberate, and calmly powerful.
How the Mouse behaves: Mostly freaking out and running away from light, noise, and people.
Okay – so we’re stretching the metaphor here a little. But the idea is that you want to be courageous in leveraging your own network, and spend your energy wisely in cultivating the relationships you have and the new ones you want to make.
And you should take courage! The big ‘secret’ is that people who know you (and already like you) will generally be open to introducing you to other people that they know well. It’s low risk for them, and an opportunity for you to show gratefulness to them afterwards. Just be sure that you don’t just go around asking for favors from everyone you know. Be selective and deliberate about deciding to connect through a friend. And when you do reach out to those new people, be sure that you remain humble and curious about them and the things that they may need, so you can offer something for them in the connection as well — don’t make it all about you. Make it all about the both of you.
Connecting in a successful way with influential people in your company and industry is important, so be sure to polish up your skills to make sure you’re ready to roar.
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