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What's Your Networking Story?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
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Do you prepare for a networking event? Are you attending the ASTD International Conference & EXPO next month in Dallas? If you are, you will have many opportunities to network with colleagues from different parts of the world and from the diverse T&D fields and arenas. However, even if you are not going to Dallas, from now until the end of June is the time for the last round of networking events before summer begins. You want to think about the ideal professional image to project. This is branding. 

Think of a brand statement as a networking intro. statement or a one-minute elevator speech. It should be brief, concise, targeted, telling your story in a few short phrases for the following reasons: a) the essence of your professional image, b) your personality reflected through a projected image, and c) the strengths offered as benefits for developing a working relationship with you. 

Why Stories?
Stories are the core of establishing your brand. They can be quite powerful in engaging people’s attention to want to listen about you, or your products and services. Give serious attention to focusing on selecting the appropriate elements or qualities for your story that stress advancing yourself in a very highly visible way by asking:
• Who should or needs to hear my story?
• What is the reason for someone to listen to my story?
• How do I select which story to tell to what individual or group?
• How do I ensure that my story leads to desired outcomes?

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All brands have carefully composed stories, projecting your passion, commitment, and genuineness of what you are marketing and reinforces the bond. This action impacts your success in achieving your goals. To ensure that you are telling the right story to the right audience, you need to stockpile a variety of stories from which you can choose. These should be reviewed and updated regularly. Prepare for a networking event or other professional meetings, workshops, or conferences by selecting two stories that meet the above listed criteria.

Branding Professional Statement
The purposes of a branding statement is to:
• Grab a specific person’s attention quickly and to sustain interest in you
• Allow you to stand out from your competition
• Focus on how you want to be seen

A branding statement helps to maintain a current public presence and gives you a focal point for career fluidity, survival, and success. Therefore, it must be up-to-date and targeted in the message that it sends out. If you presently have a branding statement, now is the time to review it, have others look at it, and to consider what needs to be taken out and what needs to be added for you to re-brand yourself. If you have never written one, now is the time to do so.

For those readers who will be in Dallas, we are presenting on Tuesday, 5/21 in the Career Resource Center and on Wednesday, 5/22 in the Community Theater. Please stop by to say hello, we would love to meet you!

About the Author
Annabelle Reitman has more than 40 years of experience in career coaching and counseling, specializing in résumé development that targets clients’ individualized professional stories. She also does short-term coaching for people in work transitions, enabling them to successfully continue their career journey. Reitman is an established writer and author in the career and talent management arenas. She is a co-author of ATD's Career Moves (2013) and contributed the Take charge of Your Career: Breaking Into & Advancing in the T&D Profession Chapter to the  ASTD Handbook, 2nd edition (2014). Reitman holds doctorate and master’s degrees in higher education administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.
About the Author
Caitlin Williams, PhD, is an expert in navigating the workplace with grit and grace and co-author of Career Moves: Be Strategic About Your Future (ASTD Press 2013). An atypical career development professional, through her consulting, speaking, and writing, she evangelizes the opportunities for experienced professionals to continue to pursue meaningful work that keeps their performance high, their anxiety low, and their lives moving in the direction that works for them. Witnessing the disheartening effects of the “working worried,” she offers these committed workers specific tools and strategies for flourishing in a always uncertain workplace. Whether experienced professionals are exploring new career paths or pursuing excellence in already chosen careers, she acts as their chief supporter and sounding board. Caitlin is also an organization’s key advisor, guiding leadership in identifying and leveraging employee strengths and critical skill sets and helping them build healthy, productive and innovative workplaces. In her work, Caitlin uses the leading-edge tools of personal branding, appreciative inquiry, personal story, and preferred futuring. These techniques powerfully shift her clients and audiences’ perspective from one that is limited to a history-focused and static view of themselves to one that leverages current strengths and focuses on future possibilities.
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