It’s Not Who You Know — It’s Who Knows YOU
Posted on August 20, 2012
Throughout high school, college, and even into our professional careers, it’s drilled into our heads that effective and tireless networking is the key to success. It’s all about who you know. Right?
Before you doubt all of the career-building experiences you’ve had since high school graduation, consider this: It’s not about who you know, but who knows you.
Networking only gets you so far.
I have a varied career background — I’ve been a chef and an author, and I’m now part of a professional branding company — so I’ve networked in several different industries. In my experience, networking only gets you so far.
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Once upon a time, the tried-and-true mantra of “It’s all about who you know” was, well, true. In the digital age we’re lucky enough to live in today, however, we have to consider whom we’re connected to and what our connections know about us. Whether you’re applying for a job, using your references, or making a legitimate contact for venture capital, you can and will be tracked through LinkedIn and other online profiles and sources. Ultimately, you will be measured against other candidates and colleagues. With endless information right at our fingertips, this is inevitable.
The bottom line is that potential employers, connections, and colleagues are finding their own paths to you and evaluating your value and work ethic based on what they see online, which may or may not work in your favor. (In other words, you never know who they know – or what they think of them.)
Branding is the answer.
To combat this, all professionals need to have a developed professional brand. The better your brand is, the more likely it is that you’ll be perceived as an expert in your field, as well as a connection to others who truly value your opinion and work.
The best way to build your professional brand is to start with a branded website. The more complete and informative your website is (this includes your bio, past and present professional experience, portfolio, published articles, memberships, and awards), the more likely Google is to place it on its first page of search results. This means that, when potential connections search your name, they’ll see your quality website, which legitimizes you and your business potential. By maintaining a strong online presence, advertising third-party validation of your work, and joining the right professional organizations, potential connections will suddenly care a lot less about what other outlets might say about you.
Tooting your own horn is necessary sometimes.
As a professional, it’s essential to show interest in and help promote others, but it’s okay to “brag” about yourself at the right time and place. Having a solid professional brand is one of the best ways to do this. By having an established website and brand, you come across as an accomplished and successful professional who’s worth paying attention to. Believe it or not, people want to see your accomplishments, awards, published work, organizations, etc. — it’s how they determine whether they want to associate with you. Your website is the perfect place for them to obtain that information.
If they’re impressed with your brand, potential connections will look for you on social media, so it’s important that you translate your brand to these platforms. Just got published in Forbes? Post it on Facebook, and watch old friends, co-workers, business professionals, and potential clients come out of the woodwork to praise you. You get a large amount of ROI for a small amount of effort. (Boom! You’ve just changed the perspective visitors of your social media profiles have when they’re measuring you against others.)
Tying it all together is key.
When creating a professional branding strategy, it’s crucial that you create a hybrid of your personal brand and your company’s brand to portray the best image possible. Follow up website branding efforts with social media efforts, publishing attempts, and more. Get your brand in front of as many people as possible.
If you execute this plan successfully, you will become known as an expert in your industry, which—when you’re focused on who knows you—is an invaluable reputation to have.