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Cornelius News

How do you network during the shutdown?

By Ginny Mackin. Are you a networker? Either way, this unprecedented time provides an opportunity to strengthen your personal, professional and company brand in a powerful way.

Before social and professional distancing, I informally asked a team of 25 professionals at different stages of their careers to share their thoughts on networking. The room was full of sighs, groans and eye-rolls. Comments ranged from “I fear being in a large room with strangers” (especially in the current environment) to “Can’t I just do my work and avoid the small talk?” I’ve got you covered.


Hello. My name is Ginny and I dread networking.

Stick with me. Now is your chance to network in an impactful, safe and comfortable way. Let’s redefine networking for the times.

Networking to build your personal brand – during both “normal” and COVID-restricted-times is different. Here is why:
It has a specific purpose – a means to achieve your reason for action (cue column 1)
It should be tightly targeted to the right individuals – those in your stakeholder plan
And, it can be done in virtual environments where your value proposition (column 5) can shine. It doesn’t have to happen in a big room with strangers if that’s not your happy (or healthy) place.

Let’s talk about focused, socially-distanced-networking. By the way, these tips work well for introverts every day.

Tip One: Establish your very own Board of Directors.
Choose up to five individuals who can help steward your brand, spark your networking and serve as your brand community. Here’s who might be on your BOD:
A mentor who may be a technical expert and knows your industry or space
A few connectors or influencers who will make introductions
A peer-level individual who can serve as your reality check without competing with you

Tip Two: Know your ask.
Knowing what you stand for and what you need makes it easier to engage and network.

Example: Hi. I am growing my executive coaching practice that focuses on senior leaders at retirement age who are transitioning into consulting work and board positions. Would you be willing to meet for virtual coffee and discuss the types of things you were looking for when you transitioned from your role a few years back?

Asking can be uncomfortable because it puts us in a potentially vulnerable spot. Remember, most people do want to help. Ask for what you want and be specific. A bonus — your contact may share your information with potential clients. Give people the opportunity to say yes.

Tip Three: Engage in a comfortable and authentic way.
If that is engaging 1-1 through introductions from your personal Board of Directors, terrific. If it is forming your own small Zoom over breakfast discussions, virtual coffee breaks or happy hours, even better.

Our personal coach may never need to set foot in a conference, chamber of commerce event or large meeting again. (But let’s hope that is an option soon). If she is successful connecting 1-1 with experts, neighbors and contacts within her community who can share, consider ideas and make introductions, she will likely build her network in an authentic, comfortable and targeted way. Even better? She is even more likely to grow her business—all while staying healthy.

What does time management have to do with building your personal brand? How and where you spend your time send direct messages about what’s important to you and what your brand is all about.

Change up your game
During this unprecedented time, change your game around networking. Focus it on building your personal brand in a way that is healthy and true to your values and style.

Illustration ccPixs: http://www.ccpixs.com/