One of things you learn when building your brand is that it is not "what" you know but "who" you know. Networking is key if you plan to move up in your brand. You have to get out there and make yourself known to build the brand that you want. It is never too early to start building your professional network because a quality network takes time to build.
When building your network there are a few things you need to think about: Who do you want in your network? Who do you need in your network? What area do you want to focus on? How will you use your network to empower and motivate? If your network is one sided then it will not work. You need to have a well rounded network that empowers and develops from all angles.
Some of the things that have worked for me are as follows:
1. Show yourself to be selfless - Don't expect something in return every time you give. Sometimes you have to give of yourself and that be the only reward. You have to show that you are not all about yourself and that you care about your area, focus or cause. People support the selfless not the selfish.
2. Connect with people inside and outside your industry - Just because the person is not in your industry does not mean that they can not be beneficial. Your network needs to be full of people that lift, motivate, empower and support you. What industry they are in should not stop you from receiving this type of foundation for your brand and in your life.
3. Connect with people that share common interests - Make sure that you have people in your network that understands your struggle and your journey. There should be people in your network that are at the beginning, middle and end of the journey that you are on so you will see the full path before your eyes. You can give back to the ones at the beginning, walk with the ones in the middle and be mentored by the ones at the end. This is the area where your brand can give and grow at the same time, embrace and transform it.
4. Always have a business card on hand - You never know who you will meet each day that could take your brand to the next level. Always have at least a business card on you at all times. This shows you are prepared and about business. If you have a brochure about your brand that would be better. People that invest watch everything and remember everything about their first encounter with a person so always be ready to promote your brand professionally. Always have the elevator speech ready to go with the business card.
5. Setup profiles on the social media to grow the brand - Always have a visual to go with the brand. Some people are technology people and just do not do paper but they need to be addressed as well. This is where social media come into play. Make sure that you have a profile on the major social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. If you want a major presence for your brand, you need to be where the major influencers go.
These are just a few things that can help network your brand. Always be prepared to network anywhere that you go because you never know if you are meeting the person that can help you make your dream come true. Start building your network today!