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Brand Yourself in Your Contacts’ Minds

Brand Yourself in Your Contacts’ Minds

Peter Vogt, MonsterTRAK Career Coach

If I were to say, “golden arches,” what restaurant would you think of?

I’d be shocked if you didn’t say, “McDonald’s.” After exposing consumers to the golden arches for decades, the company has trained us to think, “McDonald’s,” whenever we see those arches on TV, in print media or when we’re driving. Powerful stuff, don’t you think?

You can use a similar branding approach, albeit on a smaller and much less costly scale, in your internship or job-hunting efforts by networking with people on an ongoing basis.

You’ve heard me — and others, no doubt — preach many times before about the benefits of networking. It really is the best way to look for jobs and internships. But too often it can be sort of hit-and-miss. You talk to people, pick up a tidbit or two and then move on, never to contact them again.

That approach is not only somewhat rude, but it also fails to capitalize on the whole branding concept. You’ve given yourself only one brief chance to be remembered by the people you’ve spoken to. Instead, why not contact them several times over the course of many months? And while you’re at it, why not do something to help them as much as they have helped you?

In other words, brand yourself positively and memorably.

How can you brand yourself among your networking contacts and create a mutually beneficial relationship at the same time? Try the following strategies:

Ask If You Can Keep in Touch

Almost everyone will say, “Yes,” because they want to help you and know you might be able to return the favor someday. So after you’ve spoken to someone, send a quick thank-you note and tell the person you’ll keep in touch. Then, do just that. Follow up every month or six weeks with a quick email or phone call. Let the person know how your internship or job hunt is going, and then ask how things are going with him.

Offer Your Help

You might think you have nothing to offer your networking contacts, but that’s not the case. We all know people who might be able to help others. Furthermore, we all stumble upon information that might be useful to others. For example, if you see a newspaper article or receive an email that one of your networking contacts would find interesting, forward it along. You provide help in return for having received it, plus you once again brand yourself favorably in the person’s mind.

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