Personal Branding & Networking for Beginners
After 2 years of dealing with depression, anxiety and panic attacks, I decided to break free from those chains and try to build my confidence back up. I started by looking at where it is I wanted to go and what I needed to get there. As an 18 year old who had no professionals contacts and no real-world experience, I decided to plunge myself into every opportunity I could get my hands on.
Now, aged 20, I spent the last two years attending over 100+ events of all sorts. I was mostly interested in learning about business, psychology, politics and technology and those interests are the same today. I attended meetings, networking events, conferences, workshops, dinners, and everything in between.
I also focused on utilising social media to tell my story of overcoming mental health challenges and throwing myself into the unknown. I managed to build a strong brand on Instagram, where now, my followers have stated that they felt like they have known me for years even before I had the chance to meet them.
I decided I was on a good enough level now to help other people start building their own personal brands and growing their networks. On Thursday 17th January 2019, I hosted my 1st talk at General Assembly where I explained the very basic stuff of how to go about creating your Personal Brand and How to Network. Here is how the talk went:
Before I break Personal Branding & Networking down, it is important to address 3 things:
As soon as an individual begins to use the internet, they transform themselves from a person into a business. This is down to companies like Google, Facebook, and most other websites, utilising that person as data on their platform. Because you are now a business, you might as well learn how to sell your business to its full potential.
Personal Branding & Networking are two tools that every person can use to build relationships - they are relationship building tools.
If you are a young person reading this and thinking, why do I need to learn either of these? Well, if you want to find a job, any job, how well you can sell yourself, your CV, your social media profile, etc, will determine how likely you are to get that job. Makes sense?
Now lets get into the nitty-gritty.
What is it: It is your ability to tell your own story - that is all. Your story is built around who you are as a person which includes; your background, values, mission, work, appearance, and personality.
Why is it important: Well, apart from becoming a popular guy or girl on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, you can actually get yourself a job from simply posting appropriate content. Big time CEO's and Directors of almost every company in the world are on social media. If they are on social media, that means you can message them and possibly catch their attention.
So, imagine you manage to catch the attention of a famous CEO after posting a witty comment on one of their posts and now they have secretly gone on your profile to stalk you a little bit. If your social media profile is showing you from your very best side, showing you as an actual human being, with interests, and flaws, and a portfolio of work, and a great work ethic. Imagine how impressed this CEO could be, they could even offer you a job.
Oh, and remember, having a lot of followers not only makes you "popular" in today's society, but it can also generate some money in your pocket as you can learn how to make money from your followers in one way or another.
Three people that do Personal Branding really well:
Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group - It has to be down to his appearance and his adrenaline packed lifestyle that he is just unapologetic about.
Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of VaynerMedia - This man knows where he came from and knows where his is going. He talks about it everywhere he goes.
Oprah Winfrey - Oprah is the definition of someone that lives her values. She gave up a "second anchor" position at a news station to follow her dream of having her own show and being the "front women". Oh, did I mention she became a millionaire for being herself.
So... How do I do it?
Figure out your story - This goes down to self-awareness and takes a lot of time to really think about and understand. You really want to try answering the question "Who am I?". This comes down to various things, like your personality, values in life, mission and vision and more. One question I thought a lot about was "If I died today, what would I want people to have remembered me for?".
Figure out your best communication method - This goes down to your natural ability of communications. When you finally understand your own story, you can start thinking about all the different ways you can explain it to another person. You can experiment with Voice, Video, Text and if you are a creative, your own work like photos and artwork. Sometimes, a picture can speak more then a thousand words can.
Use these platforms -
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are where a ton of eyes and ears are. With each platform reaching billions of posts every day, those 3 platforms are where you can really become an "Influencer" also known as a social media celebrity. Each platform focuses on different types of audiences and requires different types of content so make sure you do your research on who you would like to have following you.
LinkedIn, Whatsapp and YouTube are your foundation platforms. LinkedIn is your professional network, where you can connect with big time CEO's and recruiters from companies all around the world. LinkedIn is a pretty fragile place due to this "professional" standard so it allows those who are brave enough to really stir things up and catch some eyes with the content you post. Whatsapp is your personal network. This is just a reminder that your close ones may know more people then you think so it may be useful to pop up and ask them if they know anyone hiring. YouTube is where you can now become a TV star... well kind of. YouTube will soon be hitting more watch time then TV as more and more people are spending hours procrastinating on funny cat videos or epic fails. This gives you a chance to really show off what you know about your interests and deliver high-quality videos.
Snapchat, Medium and Anchor are the new platforms that still haven't been fully discovered for their potential. This basically means that you have time to learn how they work and how you can utilise them to make yourself look good on even more platforms, diversifying your audience further, if the other platforms mentioned don't work out for you. Each of these platforms are very different in the way you can communicate with another person so you can try all 3 out and see which style of communications you prefer.
What is it: It is your ability to build professional relationships.
Why is it important: Apart from being in a position to learn about others and let others learn about you, networking also connects with Job Opportunities, Education, Health and Support.
By putting yourself out there to strangers and being in an uncomfortable position, you are now giving yourself the chance to be noticed by a potential recruiter or decision maker. Imagine having a fantastic chat at a networking event with the Head of Recruitment at Microsoft, who are just looking for a young person to hire. You exchange details with the person and submit an application for the sales role they have. It just so happens that there are 4 judges going through 50 application for the position, and one of them is the person you networked with. Think of how much higher your chances have now gone up because you created an emotional connection with that person, who now could actually be boasting how cool you are to the rest of the recruiters.
There are also other benefits like Education. As human beings, we are social animals so we learn from one another. By networking, you can pick up small information from others by just exchanging a few words. Networking has a great benefit on Health, because you are now talking to real life people and not sitting behind a computer. It is a great feeling to speak with others in person, getting things of your chest, and connecting with like-minded people. You also get a chance to gather support. This just refers to learning from others who may have done or are wanting to do what you want to do. These are people that you can generally ask for help when you face a problem or grow to stardom with.
So... How do I do it?
Figure out your story - Again, this comes down to self-awareness. Get to know yourself and what you are about. Most people now have an average attention span of 6 seconds. This means that you have 6 seconds to catch a persons interest or be at risk of losing them forever. If you only have 6 seconds, you have a much higher chance of keeping them interested if you know your own story and can communicate it in a clear and concise way. If someone is interested in your story, they will ask questions to find out more. If they are not interested, then just move on. You cannot please everyone.
Use these platforms -
Eventbrite and Meetup are two websites where you can find events of all sorts and get to know like-minded individuals. Eventbrite has a wide array of event types and I personally recommend that site when you are just starting out as this was my go-to place when I first became interested in meeting other people but didn't know anyone. The great thing is, when you begin to expand your network and attend different events, you can then learn about more events and potentially get your new acquaintances to invite you to events that they know. These two platforms you can just google as they are well-known.
Motivez is an upcoming platform that showcases high quality events, mainly in London at the time of writing this. Most of the events they show on their platform are to do with business and technology and range from workshops to networking events. They currently have an app on IOS and website that you can find.
Haringey Community Gold works with 9 partners organisations to support young people in Haringey. We frequently organise events to support young people in finding job opportunities where we can either connect you with the employer directly, or we can organise a jobs fair and invite you and employers to the event to mingle! You can find out more about us on this website under #CommunityGold.
3. Find the Problem - This is probably the greatest thing you can do at networking events. Every person you are speaking with has some sort of problem in their career, doesn't matter how small or big. By poking at the person with a few SUBTLE questions, and I do mean subtle, you can start to understand the problem the person is facing (avoid personal problems, only ask about career problems). The individual maybe looking for someone to hire as an intern, or needs some help designing a website or creating a poster. If you know someone or if you can do it for them, then you may have just made yourself a new friend. The trick here is to be subtle, and that is both with the questions asked and the solutions offered. Never be all big headed by what you hear a person is dealing with cause no one likes a big head.
And that is it for the beginners guide. Hopefully you learned something new and took something from this article. If this was helpful and you would like to know more, then you can comment on this post and I can try delivering this article as a workshop at your school or social group.
Please comment what you need support with and reach out to us if you have a topic that you want us to cover!