I have to admit that until recently I’ve never really given branding and networking much thought. In fact, I didn’t really even know what branding was, and the little thought I gave to networking was primarily in a negative context. I didn’t like the idea of talking to someone with what I thought was the sole purpose of having a person to contact in the future, if and when, I needed something from them. It did not feel authentic to me. Likewise, I didn’t love the idea of not knowing if someone was talking to me purely because they might eventually need something from me. For that reason, I was never too interested in going to networking events.
However, last month’s session on networking provided a different spin on what networking is and helped change some of my thoughts about it with a focus in a positive way. At the session, networking was described as building relationships, and life is all about relationships. I can relate to that. I value relationships. What ended up speaking to me the most was the idea of thinking about how I can help others and not how they can help me or what they can provide for me. The idea of approaching someone and establishing a relationship with them because I might be able to help that person appeals to me. It seems different to me than approaching someone because I might need something from them and it also somehow seems different than having someone else approach me because they might need something from me in the future. I previously didn’t think of networking in terms of having meaningful relationships and friendships with people, but now I realize that it can, and often does, include the added benefit of being able to help one another.
I also found the branding part of the session beneficial and could see how it connected to what we learned in previous sessions, as far as core values, competencies, personality, and image are concerned. The most memorable thing for me was when we were told if we don’t speak out, speak up, and define ourselves, then others will define us for us. This reinforced how I constantly need to consider how my values and personality influence my behavior and how it is perceived by others, regardless of my intent. I’m currently working on how I’m branding myself and trying to align my brand between my peers and managers so there aren’t major gaps between the two.
Overall, I did not know what to expect at the start of the branding and networking session, but took away numerous things I need to work on. I have a much stronger appreciation for how both branding and networking can play an integral role in becoming an effective leader and advancing one’s career.