From the time we enter college as an undergraduate to the time we retire, we’re taught the importance of building a solid professional network. We send friendly emails to the names printed on business cards we collect at area networking events, and we issue expertise and job updates to former and current co-workers and bosses on LinkedIn.
But building and updating your network on professional progress is useless if they don’t “know” you. To clarify, I don’t mean know your mother’s maiden name “know” you. I mean they know that one unique thing about your personal brand that sets you apart from their other connections.
Sure, everyone you’re connected to probably knows your current position and where you’re located. But if your connection learns of a stellar opportunity within his company or finds a great position online, does he know to pass it your way?
“Job seekers are primarily looking for positions for themselves and often don’t stop to really consider how their connections, other job seekers and professionals, might be able to help,” explains Sudy Bharadwaj, co-founder and CEO of Jackalope Jobs. “However, when your network knows you’re looking, they often tend to recognize that job that is perfect for someone they know.”
Bharadwaj outlined three personal brand “musts” professionals need to share with their network connections in order to pop into mind when a new opportunity appears.
1. Choose One Position You Want Them To Remember
Professionals, especially young professionals, vacate positions often for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they’ve gotten a promotion within a company, relocated to a new city or even started a new company. Such frequent changes can leave your connections second-guessing as to where you’ve worked and what you do.
To keep confusion of your personal brand at a minimum, choose one position you’ve held or currently hold that you always want your connections to remember. Perhaps you want them to remember a job with a high-ranking title or a job where you were given an exorbitant amount of responsibility. You want your connection to see a job with a vice president title or multi-tasking requirement and think, “Hey, that’s so-and-so!”
2. Choose One Skill You Want Them To Remember
Say, for example, you’re a public relations professional. Chances are you have superb writing and editing skills. Chances are so does everybody else in your profession. You want to find one skill you possess that separates you from mostly everybody else in your profession.
To continue the public relations example, do you know how to shoot and edit video? Or are you at ease answering public inquiries on camera? Not everybody in your profession has these skills. Choose one unique skill and make sure to build your brand around it.
3. Choose One Personality Trait You Want Them To Remember
Skills and past work experience are only part of what it takes to ultimately land you a job; personality plays a large role as well. Companies, like people, have unique internal traits that distinguish them from their competition.
Think of one personality trait you want your network to remember about you. Is it that you’re obsessed with your dog? Or are you a crossfit nut? The next time your connection finds a job at Marcus Thomas, LLC or hears his boss talking about how accomplished he feels for completing 100 burpees at his workout this morning, he’ll think of you.
Remember to choose a position, skill and personality trait that best fit with the personal brand you’ve already spent time building. If you’ve constructed your brand correctly, choosing these three musts will be simple and obvious.
Which three “musts” do you want your network to remember? How do they work with your personal brand?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.