"Your Network determines Your Net Worth,” an old saying with new value. Today’s net worth accounts for more than monetary value, social capital adds new value when it comes to expanding your personal network.
Growing a professional network in today's creative economy is not only essential, it's necessary to compete with the barrage of well-branded millennials and others who are leveraging their personal brand and professional network to generate success, opportunities, and wealth. As a Brand Therapist, my first question to every single client regardless of their background or profession is: do you have a solid professional network. Having a professional network is the foundation of leveraging relationships and identifying opportunities. No matter where you are in your profession or personal journey, here are 3 things to keep in mind as you increase your social capital and expand your personal network.
"It Goes Down in the DM," song lyrics implying that connections take place via direct message. Connections are what you make them. For those looking to expand their personal network, DMs are a great way to introduce yourself to people in your social network to grow your professional network. The majority of social media platforms are one-sided communication, where the user communicates to a mass audience. DMs are your opportunity to start a direct 2-way conversation. I recommend a friendly professional introduction that leads with who you are and why you’re reaching out, and that ends with an “ask,” the ask may be as simple as keeping in touch, or the ask may be an invite for coffee or a phone conversation if the person is not local.
Be Responsive- there are so many missed opportunities, simply because people are non-responsive. Whether it’s not responding to emails or not maximizing social media friend requests, being non-responsive is a habit that can severely decrease your social capital and shrink your personal network. Skim through your email to make sure you haven’t missed an opportunity to connect with someone that can be of value to you. Chances are you may have overlooked an email or simply ignored an email where someone reached out to you. Leave no stone unturned, you never know what opportunity exists behind the email you overlooked or didn’t deem important. The same applies for social media friend requests, take a moment to check out the person’s profile to identify if there are any synergies or traits that interest you if so, go beyond accepting their friend request and send them a direct message.
Go Alone- this is a golden rule for attending events with the goal of networking. Going alone forces you to converse with people that you may not have spoken to if you were with someone. Often times being with someone keeps us in our comfort zone and keeps us from branching out to meet new people. Make a commitment to attend a few events alone. It can be uncomfortable but the reward of making new connections and exercising your social skills pays off significantly.
Audrey Woodley is Brand Therapist who helps women identify solutions to their brand challenges. She uses new-age problem-solving tactics, proven strategies, and customized solutions to help women build and sustain a successful brand.