Kick start your social brand by growing your professional network

Our new blog series will help kick start your personal and professional brand on social media. We’ll cover looking your best, growing your network, sharing your story, and staying engaged. Read the last blog to learn how to improve your LinkedIn profile.

Your profiles look great and you are ready to connect with others! But your current network only includes a smattering of co-workers, past and present. Let’s help you make some fresh and impactful connections.

Who is in your bubble that would make a good professional connection?

  • Colleagues in other departments
  • Peers within volunteer groups you belong to
  • Friends and neighbors outside of work

Who is not in your immediate circle, but would be a good connection?

  • Alumni of schools or organizations you’ve belonged to
  • Peers in similar roles at other companies
  • People you meet at conferences
  • Influencers in your field
  • Authors of books, blogs, and articles
  • Members of larger professional organizations you belong to

Connecting gets easier the more you do it. Here are a few ideas on how to reach out. Keep it short and to the point. In fact, LinkedIn has a character limit for their connection notes, so you’ll have to keep it brief.

You can always hit the connect button without an additional note, but the chances of someone accepting your invitation greatly increase if you reach out to them in a more personal way. Don’t take it personally if they don’t accept or never respond. It happens. People are busy. And since people can be reached a variety of ways nowadays, they are wary of spam, so be careful of phrases that sound too “salesy” or too self-serving.

Don’t forget about Facebook. Yes, Facebook!

Another good way to gather professional connections is through Facebook.  More and more people are starting to use Facebook groups professionally. To find these groups all you have to do is ask either on your own newsfeed, in a community group, an alumni group, school group, or even neighborhood group. For example, “Hi everyone. Does anyone within this group work in the XYZ space? If so I’d like to connect and pick your brain about something. I work for XYZ company in ABC department.” You can reply to any respondents, connect with them on LinkedIn, and possibly message them to schedule time to chat. Respondents might also refer you to other groups on Facebook that are applicable to your profession. The most active and targeted professional discussions sometimes take place within private Facebook groups.

There is also Twitter!

If you already use Twitter you might consider creating a separate work related handle. Once you do, you can start to follow influencers in your professional niche, leaders you admire, peers at other companies, and news and professional outlets that publish relevant content. It’s a great way to stay updated. If you choose to tweet, share useful professional content and retweet valuable content that you’ve found by following others.

“As professionals, building a network of other talented individuals gives you the support we all too often lack in both our personal and professional lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to move up in your career, or if you’re perfectly happy in your current role. Having a network of other professionals will make your work life richer, more interesting, and may just help you grow your talents.”

– Allen P., Department Head, Editorial & Creative Operations

Set a goal!

Try to make 1-2 new connections a week. Block time on your calendar to do this. Remember, the quality of your network is more important than the size. When you open up tabs in your browser every morning make LinkedIn one of them. Read some updates from your network, conduct a search or two, and send a connection request if you find someone of interest.

Networking isn’t always easy and it doesn’t come naturally for many people. But once you try a few of the suggestions above, and have a few new connections under your belt, you’ll be well on your way to building a great network. We’ll talk about sharing and shaping your story in Part 3 of our series.

For more career tips and advice from Vanguard follow us on LinkedIn and check out our careers blog. If you are interested in learning more about personal marketing and branding check out this Harvard Business Review Article, How to make the right connections when you don’t already have an in by branding expert Dorie Clark.

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