“It’s important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have.Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level."
- Gary Vaynerchuk [1975- present]
Networking is a key pillar of creating new business and life opportunities. And effective networking requires successfully connecting and fostering trust with our peers and colleagues, building that important bridge from stranger to acquaintance, and doing so authentically.
Over the past 20 years, we have seen more and more of our personal and professional lives migrating away from real-life, in-person interactions and toward online ones, mediated through the internet. And the COVID pandemic has significantly accelerated (some would say forced) this digital migration. Many of the traditional elements of networking—catching up with others at conferences, brainstorming ideas over coffee, engaging in water cooler conversations—are simply impossible now. The “in-person” aspects of networking have effectively been taken out of play.
So if we cannot meet in person, what options do we have to establish and nurture our network connections? Some good networking tactics include dropping someone a line in Slack, sending an email, making an “old-fashioned” phone call, and—common in our new normal—initiating a Zoom video conference. But truly successful networking requires applying new approaches, including bolstering and monitoring your digital reputation.
Curating a positive and representative digital reputation for yourself is an effective way to earn respect and build credibility when we cannot engage with others in real life, face to face. How we represent ourselves online powerfully influences how we are perceived and can have a significant impact on our ability to develop new friendships. Simply put, both you and your business need to look good online.
Your online reputation is unique, somewhat like your fingerprint, made up of your myriad engagements with and through the internet, from Google searches to social media posts and comments. Although we can control some of these things, others we can only influence. Our opportunity lies in being able to own and drive the narrative—to craft a digital presence that reflects our true character and accomplishments.