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I truly believe that networking is much more than just socializing – networking is a powerful tool to leverage your career through meaningful contacts!

I just came back from a trip to England as I was invited at my former HR colleague’s wedding. It was such a nice day to be reunited with some of my friends that I had met ten years ago when I lived there. Even in that perfect moment of happiness, opportunity for networking came up that resulted in my sending my friend’s resume to the bride. Strong relationships can last for years. It’s not about sharing personal events, it’s about starting with a good impression and a true personal connection without knowing where it will lead you.

A quality network begins with strong relationships.
 For me, building those relationships is all about listening, being authentic and caring. As Epictetus said “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” This is important to remember when building relationship and it is especially true when you have just met someone new.

Through active listening and sincere engagement in conversations, personal connections are more likely to be achieved. You will then be able to identify how you can help the other person and vice-versa. Humans are, by nature, social creatures and we do need one another to fulfill this need. Why is being authentic so important? People remember the positive vibes and good feeling they experience after having spent time with someone who has been open and honest. You will be ready to move mountains for those people that you feel really care about you. Conversely, those who are insecure or insincere are more likely to leave an incongruous feeling of discontent.

When looking at our relationships, we often forget about informal networks which, in themselves, can be very powerful contacts. I have learned that most referrals are made by people who are loosely connected to each other.

So here are a few nuggets of wisdom that I have picked up along the way and that I would like to share:

  • never miss an opportunity to make a good impression
  • always demonstrate professionalism
  • deliver a great introduction (practice your “elevator pitch”)
  • dress appropriately
  • check spelling mistakes (email, social media, presentation, etc.)
  • be authentic – be yourself!

This can make all the difference in the amount of time people are willing to invest in you! Even the most unlikely people can introduce you to new opportunities.

Anyone that you meet can lead to impactful relationships that can potentially change your life.
 As I always say, “It’s all in the way of saying things and your actions”.

As the “wirearchy” begins to replace the more traditional hierarchical system, relationship-building becomes even more important. When building your online presence, chose your social networks wisely. Similarly, be selective when accepting connections on LinkedIn. I always recommend that you send personalized requests and, in doing so, indicate the person who had referred you to them and the reason for which you want to pursue the connection.

Relationship-building also means making a phone call, meeting someone in person and going to a lunch rather than sending an email. Do not be afraid to ask for assistance from people in your network. It can be quite flattering to be solicited for your expertise or advice. One important factor in creating strong and quality relationships is the evocation of a clear, personal branding.

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Personal branding begins by knowing yourself. By assessing your strengths and highlighting those skills, you will create an image that reflects your personal brand. Non-verbal messages give clues about who you are and can impact the image you wish to convey. In fact, simple things like personal grooming and politeness can speak volumes and have a lasting impression.

Once you have identified your “trademark” strengths you can begin capitalizing on your personal brand.
 Early on in my career, colleagues recognized my natural networking and branding abilities. This inspired me to focus my energies on creating an HR network that would benefit the HR community. What started as a single email address became a tool that now fosters careers and exchanges on a variety of HR topics, used by over 500 members.

In September 2015, at Randstad’s Best Talent Award ceremony, I was recognized for “Personal Branding”. I have clearly conveyed my branding, I am now starting to be recognized for it and reap the benefits. This is the reason I have chosen this topic for my first article.

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Another important factor to consider in your branding, is the ability to voice your personal and professional aspirations and objectives. It is interesting to know that many internal and external positions are never posted, yet they are effectively filled through access to rich and deep networks. Successful candidates have normally jump-started the recruitment process by connecting and gaining access to the decision makers through the establishment of their strong networks.

In many instances, people are approached with opportunities because their career aspirations are well-known.
 Awareness of your aspirations, together with great performance can serve to raise your credibility level and position you for upcoming opportunities. When promoting yourself, focus on facts, share your personal experiences and tell your story whenever possible.

Here are some ideas to reflect on:

  • What is the health of your “informal” network?
  • What is your legacy?
  • What are your talents?
  • Do decision-makers know you?
  • Who is speaking on your behalf?

From a waiter at a popular restaurant frequented by executives to the person sitting next to you on the plane, there are networking opportunities everywhere!

Getting to know one another is one of life’s great pleasures, so start your own networking adventure right now!

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