Being a sociable person is more important than ever. And I don’t mean just with your family at the holidays.
It’s not like you don’t know that. As a marketer, social media is an important part of your everyday habits (I hope), and it’s one of the most engagging and effective tactics you have at your disposal. And now more than ever, it’s an important part of being a business professional, whether you’re in marketing or any other profession.
Back in May 2009, I wrote a post about steps you can take to improve your social network. So much has changed since then that it’s time to take a good, long look and update those original steps. It’s important not just in the sense of building a network of people — it’s a key part of becoming an effective and knowledgable business professional in today’s real-time world. You have to sell yourself and your ideas to your peers and your customers (cause if you’re in marketing, you’re in sales), you have to sell your experience to potential employers, you have to connect with peers in your field, and you definitely have build your Brand Y-O-U.
Hence, here are 3 steps you need to take right now to do just that:
- Build a network of references — An important part of building a personal brand is not only having a track record of experience and achievement, but having allies who can and will attest to it. And given the legal risk that companies now face with managers providing online references, it’s important to have references that go beyond your LinkedIn profile. Certainly ensure some references on LinkedIn from key managers, direct reports, colleagues and others as you can — yet also secure letters from key contacts (if possible) and promises to serve as telephone references as well. Some executives avoid providing written recommendations of your work on social networks, yet will certainly provide references to your personal priniciples and business acumen over the phone. Don’t discount LinkedIn, and continue to build a powerful list of LinkedIn contacts and references — yet have a strong list in the background of people who will put their mouths to work saying what their corporate counsel won’t let them write.
- Engage social influencers in your field — As you know, there are plenty of social communities and outposts where you can listen and learn a whole helluva lot about marketing or whatever vertical market(s) you’re in. (If you actually don’t know that, you need to go to work on Google right this second and figure it out!) Yet while it’s wholeheartedly critical that you listen and learn, it’s now equally valuable to engage the social leaders and influencers in your field. You want your voice heard? Then engage the people talking the loudest and smartest. Comment on their blogs, share ideas, ask thought-provoking questions. Become part of the conversation and make your thoughts heard, put them in the social record. Let them get indexed and searched and read. It does more than just build your personal brand — social influencers are hubs of knowledge, and if you’re in their network you benefit from that. You learn about jobs that come open, new research, compelling content, receive introductions, and more. Alll valuable commerce in the context of building your own network.
- Keep your network active — Much like we engage our customers in social media, engage your network along the same lines. Share content with it, challenge it with thought-provoking questions, throw ideas at it. Don’t let social influencers languish, or the information they share with you languishes also. Many times people lose sight of this simple necessity as the responsibilities of our jobs outweigh the time in our days. Yet you must carve out a section of your day precisely for activating your network, it’s vital to building a personal Brand Y-O-U. Much like our brands, we have to engage our contacts and social influencers with the same principles we use to engage our customers in social media. And just like marketing, using a mix is important — Twitter, LinkedIn (both profile updates and status updates), targeted emails, blog posts, Facebook, comments, social sharing of news and content, etc.
These basic steps will have your social network humming in no time. If you listened to the advice in my original post from last year, you’re ahead of the game and you’ll add to an already-strong network. There are still other things you can do — start your own blog, seek speaking opportunities, and become a social influencer yourself. Either way, the steps above are important since a strong, active network is now a must-have for any savvy professional. You can start the proverbial business in your garage, but to be successful it can no longer stay there in a vacuum.
I’ll leave you with the same advice I left you with in my original post:
You’ve invested the time, money and effort in being a good marketer — don’t let it go to waste because you didn’t invest in your social network and Brand Y-O-U.
Take the steps above and charge ahead starting now.
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