Smart public relations isn’t just for corporations, brands or tech startups. A PR-based approach to one’s personal brand can also help when it comes to nailing that next job opportunity, new client, or partner. Here are some common ways that PR principles can be used for successful business networking.
Boost your digital footprint.
One of the first things a PR professional does when ramping up for a new client is to assess its digital trail. Everyone knows the power of online reputation, but building a personal brand isn’t just about managing any negative mentions. It’s about owning page one of search results to reflect a track record of achievement, or a digital footprint that communicates expertise. Bear in mind that employers often “pre-shop” for senior candidates before meeting them.
Be a resource.
One of the most basic ways that B2B PR professionals gain visibility for clients is to present them as a resource for media – no strings attached. This is also a good rule for personal networking: in most of your meetings with contacts or recommenders, you shouldn’t ask for anything. Instead, offer insight or contacts they don’t already have. I have a colleague who saves up introductions to offer during informal meetings or contacts with members of her network. It keeps her top-of-mind, and when she needs a favor, it’s easier and more likely to meet a positive response.
Cultivate recommenders and keep them informed.
PR pros sometimes refer to the “newsstream” for a brand or company, and just like any growing company, you want to tell a story about momentum, success, or positive change to prospective employers or clients. Make sure KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) in your industry are in the loop and ready to say the right things if they’re asked, because the most credible references are often the informal ones. Make an edcal (editorial calendar) of updates and reach out every quarter or so with personal notes or links to social media posts.
Reference your own authority.
As we say when preparing a client for a media interview, you can refer to your own track record or expertise without sounding pompous. Position yourself as a legitimate authority in your area of expertise through relevant content. Be a favorited resource on Quora – a terrific community for sharing knowledge. Or start an industry group on LinkedIn. Make connections that allow you to convey your own expertise instead of merely asking for connections or liking content.
I’m not much for grandiose or silly job titles like “social media sherpa” or “experience curator.” But explanations that reflect real experience or accomplishment (“my specialty is using technology to solve problems” or “I translate great ideas into new products”) can add punch to your presentation.
Sharpen your storytelling.
Having trouble with your “narrative”? Do what the pros do: draw up a list of open-ended question or difficult questions, write the ideal responses, then edit them to be shorter and more colorful. The point is not to be canned, but to replace rambling or boring anecdotes with memorable ones. For important opportunities, consider videotaping yourself in a simulated conversation.
Remember, the near-disaster, turnaround story, or big sales win is memorable material for interviews or meetings. There are some great tips on shaping a story from books like Ted Talks Storytelling by Akash Karia and my favorite, film producer Peter Guber’s memoir Tell To Win.