Let’s get this straight – personal branding is key for professional success no matter what you do. As a newcomer to Canada, time and again, you’d find yourself marketing your skillset to others, whether you’re looking for a job or starting a business. It’s how you brand yourself and showcase it to the connections you build through networking that will make all the difference in your professional pursuits. Let’s learn more about networking as a newcomer and how Personal branding plays a key role in this continuous process.
Personal Branding Coach & Workshop Facilitator Jenny Okonkwo says, “Personal branding is a journey and not a destination.” She elaborates, “It evolves over time because as human beings we evolve over time. Who I was 15 years ago is not the same person I am today. What was a priority for me professionally and where my passions lay 15 years ago are totally different today. So that’s the one thing that’s really important to understand and appreciate.”
So, how can you begin this personal branding journey?
- Understand what you represent and what you want to be known for. Without this, it’s hard to approach people either in a networking capacity or an inquiry. The clearer you are, the better the other person would understand how you can help them or if there’s scope for collaboration.
- Take a step back, and declutter. A SWOT analysis would be a good idea. Think about your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Once you have some clarity, it’s time to put that information out there. Remember, personal branding is a journey and not a destination. So, you can begin even when things are far from perfect.
LinkedIn is where the magic happens
You can’t probably send an email to everyone every other day to keep them updated about your achievements. But you can do that on LinkedIn! Now, the platform isn’t just to talk about oneself but to interact with other professionals and engage in meaningful conversations. Here’s how Gerard Keledjian, Executive Producer and Co-Host of New Canadians, uses it.
“LinkedIn helps me in two ways. (1) I need to stay in touch with people and keep them updated about what I’m doing. Things I’m working on, or my collaborations and achievements, etc. (2) I also want to know about what others are doing so I can spot a collaboration opportunity or offer assistance to someone. I reached out to people, and similarly, they reach out. Keeping them updated about my activities helps in breaking the ice with them. When I need to, let’s say, pitch a project to someone, I don’t need to make a big effort because they already know me and my brand, even if we’re just connected through LinkedIn virtually,” says Gerard.
Newcomer tip: Personal branding and networking go hand-in-hand
If you noticed, Gerard shared how he is able to showcase his personal branding when networking with others on LinkedIn, and as a newcomer, you can do that, too. Many new immigrants would argue that they’ve tried this but didn’t see the desired results. Well, it’s possible that they’re unknowingly making the one big mistake they shouldn’t in networking. And that is – seeking instant results, and walking away when that doesn’t happen!
Networking is about building a relationship. Instead, look for quality in the connection. “If I see the value, I will invest in building a relationship with that person regardless of whether they have a job or not for me. What matters most is that quality relationship. Down the road, there will be occasions, opportunities, moments where we might be able to help each other,” says Gerard.
But what if you’re invested in the connection, and the other person seems distant and doesn’t reply. Reach out and then politely follow-up in a few days and weeks without bombarding the other person’s inbox with messages or emails, advises Gerard.
Brent Edwards, a Professional Networking Coach at BrentCanada Experiences, uses a football analogy to explain how a newcomer to Canada can focus on branding and networking. “I’m a Canadian football fan. If you’re moving the ball down the field, you’re maybe moving a little bit… building a relationship. You don’t need to go for a touchdown on the first play. You just want to move the ball down the field. Build that relationship incrementally and it may take a while, but this is a long-term strategy but a vital strategy,” says Brent.
He ties networking back to branding. In the virtual networking space, your background and virtual banner say a lot about you to the people that you’re interacting with. “What is in your background tells a bit about what your story is. So, keep that in mind, too,” he concludes.
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