Sunday, January 20, 2013

Creating Deeper Relationships in Your Network

Networking has been around ever since people realized that they get help from people they have a relationship with.  It used to happen at the saloon, or the open markets or at the club, (and it still does).  Today however we often think of networking as adding someone new to our LinkedIn profile or maybe commenting on someone's post.  In the world of social media and with the ease of connecting electronically and being visible, we get lazy and we rely on clicks instead of good, old-fashioned, face-to-face conversation.  It takes work to maintain any relationship; when you put it on auto-pilot that's when it begins to wither and die.

Call it goal setting or a new year's resolution or whatever makes you take action but begin the work of creating deeper relationships in your network.  Making an emotional connection with someone can’t be done (as easily) on the internet or even on the phone.  Set up coffee or lunch or some other reason to sit down, look someone in the eye and ask them what is new in their life, what is keeping them up at night, how can you help them?  I guarantee they will in turn ask you the same thing.  That is your opportunity open up with more detail than you would online.  Take control of your message and your brand and establish deeper ties.

Make it a point to reach out to someone that is (or was) important to you that you have not seen for some time.  Pick your own frequency; once a week, once a month or whatever you can manage.  Put a list together of all those people and start to invite them – it’s a process and with as busy as everyone is it will take some work but it is worth it.  They will appreciate it and respect you for your initiative as well as your thoughtfulness.  Make your network more than just the number of people that you are connected to electronically.

Mark Lewis is a marketing executive with broad experience across the marketing mix.  He can be found at he would be happy to connect with you but be prepared, he will probably ask you to meet him in person.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Be bold – and create your personal brand

Be bold – and create your personal brand

By Mark Helfen

This month we begin meeting at a new location:
Silicon Valley Innovation Center
3200 Coronado Drive. Santa Clara, CA 95051
(Don’t go to our old place – you’ll miss the pizza!)

Your personal brand – the description of your unique talents, capabilities and ability to make a difference, is no longer a nice to have - it’s a requirement. To develop an effective personal brand you need to “be bold,” something most people find hard to do. Or so says Karen Kang, speaker at the January 14 SVForum Marketing and Social Media SIG.

Kang is founder and CEO of Branding Pays, a consulting firm that specializes in both corporate and personal branding, and executive coaching. She is also the author of a recently released book BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand, and will have copies available at her presentation including two copies to raffle for free.

The starting point for developing your personal brand is to have a strategic plan – a vision of the unique way you create value for others. And a message that your market wants to hear.

Many strategic executives understand (or think they understand) the idea of creating a corporate brand. But a personal brand can also help your business succeed, for example by better allowing your talents and skills to be seen and used within the company. Not to mention that in the rapidly changing economy we live in, your personal brand goes with you, even when you’re business changes (or disappears). A personal brand also helps your visibility across virtual and geographic distances, as business becomes global, remote, and connections are formed over social media.

Besides, if you don’t create your own personal brand, you run the risk of someone else creating it for you. Which might not be in your best interest.

As you think about your personal brand, you need to think about how you “provide value in a different and better way.” You need to provide evidence, proof, or endorsements that you can deliver on your promise. This could be a personal website with examples of your work. A blog could demonstrate your strategic thinking capability. Or even Linkedin, where endorsements from others can help validate your capabilities, and your brand.

But what might be the hardest part is Kang’s instruction to “be bold” – what big ideas will you be known for, what unique, differentiated value will you add, how you can be a change agent.

Bold might be outside your comfort zone. So come my Monday, and see if you can’t get a shot of courage to help in developing your personal brand.

Please sign up on Meetup:


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

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