Build a community that builds brand “you”

The following wisdom is based on an article by Patrice (Taylor) Barber, who has many years of experience as an Executive Recruiter.

Why is Networking Important?

Believe it or not, many busy professionals don’t fully recognize the benefits of networking (or they only make time for it when they are in a career transition). It takes time to do it well, but the ROI is significant. There are many reasons to invest time in building and nurturing your network or “sphere of influence”.

If networking is done correctly, consistently, and intentionally, the benefits are vast:

  • You should never have to look for a job again. In fact, it greatly increases your chances of being approached for career opportunities, even when you are not actively looking.*
  • You will build relationships that add value to all areas of your life (access to the best vendors/advisors, resources, knowledge, subject matter experts, new experiences, etc.)
  • You will become a more valuable and knowledgeable asset to those around you, both personally and professionally.
  • You will have the opportunity to become better branded and more respected within your community (socially, philanthropically, and professionally).
  • You will obtain more freedom and flexibility (you will have access to new experiences, opportunities, promotions, and new doors will open in all areas of your life).

*If you are in a career transition or considering a change, networking should be a full-time job. Networking is consistently cited as the number one way to get a new job. It is commonly stated that “80% of the jobs available never get advertised”. 34% of new hires are credited to outside employee referrals. Hiring Managers would rather talk to someone who’s been recommended by a person they already trust.

Ok. This article by Patrice explains the importance of 1 to 1 networking to enhance your career.

But what if you are considering eventually becoming an entrepreneur?

Let’s say you start by expecting to receive a massive “Return on Generosity”. 

In other words, first, find a few people with a network-building intention (rather simply a networking intention). In other words, their goal is to grow an expanding network to help others make their ideal connections. 

Anyone can promote anyone but themselves. 

We know how uncomfortable and ineffective it is to tell others how great we are in an attempt to “sell” ourselves. Instead, we need others to authentically and enthusiastically do that on our behalf. When you have enough other people genuinely advocating for you, most of your marketing problems are solved.

The key here is to look for others who (like you) have a pay-it-forward) attitude and are looking to build a community of like-minded others.

Once you set this process in motion, you have a rapidly expanding community of people looking out for you and others in the community.

If you build trusted relationships with 5 like-minded people and show them how to do the same, your extended community now has 25 members. 

In this case, you are spending a small amount of time proactively building relationships with 5 great people who know, like and trust you and will sing your praises to the 5 like-minded people in their community. 

In other words, the 5 people who will advocate for you have grown to 25 with little effort from you. It’s easy to see how this will then expand to 125 when the process is repeated.

Companies build communities to build their brand. So why not do the same to build brand-you?

We are familiar with brands such as Apple, Harley-Davidson, and Leggo, which have successfully built communities of raving fans.

On a personal level, when you can do the same! When you help enough other people to get what they want, you get what you want – it’s as simple as that!

What If

You are currently an employee who has not yet created a business.

In this case, it’s so easy to deliberately build a community by looking for others with a pay-it-forward attitude and helping them meet their ideal contacts.

After building a large community, one of that community members strongly advocates you to the vendor of a subscription-based technology product that has been highly successful in other markets. 

This software product is easy to understand and highly scalable.

Furthermore, you don’t have to pay upfront for this product because instead of engaging in an expensive marketing campaign, the vendor is looking for someone with an extensive network (you) to do the marketing on their behalf. The deal is you return a small percentage of each sale to them. They have already recouped their development costs, so they see the sales you generate as a source of increasing ongoing income.

Now, because you have helped so many people in your community connect with highly relevant others, they have been just waiting for the opportunity to return the favour to you. 

Twenty of them each have two highly trusted and relevant associates, and they strongly advocate you to their associates.  They advocate for you as someone of high integrity with a game-changing product. 

You gain access to highly influential, relevant contacts that you would otherwise find challenging to reach through your network. Now you also have credibility because of the advocacy of your associates.

This example shows how easy it can be to transition SAFELY from employment to entrepreneurship.

Think about it: Your asset is your network! You may not even need a business. Instead, you could become the master connector and de-risk entirely.

By Guy Wilson