Public speaking and networking in one sentence… hmm, this will probably get some people out of their comfort zone, but you know what? I am glad! I am glad because only when you are out of your comfort zone, you give yourself permission to explore and to learn more.
Have you ever woken up in the morning having the feelling that you cannot do the job that you do anymore? And do you know that inner voice that’s telling you that there’s something more to discover about yourself, your limits, what you can build and create, what makes you different as a professional and about your legacy?
Let me tell you a story. Six years ago, I felt exactly that and I decided to leave my corporate job and to become an entrepreneur. I used to lead sales support international teams, to deal with customers from 51 countries all over the globe, I was familiar with the impact of cultural differences in business and I learned how to adapt and adjust expectations from a sales results perspective if there was an earthquake in Mumbai, a political crisis in Egypt or an economic crisis in Southern Europe. I was always ready to travel for business to Korea, China, US or Europe even if I had 3 kids at home. I had many transitions in my corporate career but one day, sitting at the decision table, surrounded by professionals from all over the world, I just knew that my journey to the next level will not be in the corporate world. So, six years ago I became an entrepreneur!
The journey hasn’t always been smooth, but three interesting things happened:
- Soon enough, I’ve discovered that the Public Relations agencies in my region were not familiar with strategies for personal branding, the perception being that branding is for services and products. So, I made the decision to train myself and I got certified as Personal Branding Strategist with William Arruda and Reach Communications in the US. This helped me to develop my own brand and later on to create BrandingYou, one of the first personal branding agencies in Eastern Europe.
- In my first year of entrepreneurship, I was invited to speak at 27 conferences. Funny enough, after analyzing my public speaking performance on camera, I realized that my performance was too corporate, slightly too stiff. Therefore, I decided participate in various advanced public speaking programs with experts like Dr. Richard Bandler, Paul MC Kenna or John Evans. Public Speaking became one of the main engines for promoting my personal brand and for attracting new customers. One day, someone asked me if I know any public speaking coach and I said ”Yes, I do. I am a public speaking coach!” – it was really my entrepreneurial spirit speaking on my behalf! Since 2012, I have personally coached over 650 professionals in public speaking and it became a personal mission. I strongly believe that we lead our teams through the power of our words and communication and our ability to inspire and motivate is one of the most important competencies of this globalized world impacted by technology development.
- When you work in the corporate world, you are so focused on your stretched targets, on your team’s needs and you have all the ”good” reasons to say ”NO” to business networking events outside of your organization. When I started my entrepreneurial journey, I realized that my business cards were obsolete because I used to do networking mainly inside the huge giant that I was working for. So, I put a lot of effort in understanding why strategic networking is important, how a strategic network can be built and also I triple my effort to meet new people and to access new communities. And this was critical for my business success!
Today, my brand is about supporting corporate leadership teams or entrepreneurs to build strategies to reach the next level in their business. I focus on helping leaders in transition to build or enhance their own personal brands through online and offline presence. In the past six years, I managed to attract international customers from different markets, I coached or trained personally over 1000 professionals, leaders in public speaking, personal branding or leadership.
Public speaking and strategic networking also helped my customers to accelerate their careers, to reach their objectives.
Who can use public speaking and strategic networking to develop a personal brand?
I remember a banker from Middle East, who was leading a local branch in Eastern European. His Board told him that he is not inspiring enough and that affected his reputation at a senior leadership level. We worked together to improve his public speaking skills, considering multicultural differences, we set-up a public speaking calendar and we made sure he increased his number of public speaking appearances and the outcome was the expected one – an unlocked career!
Another case – a director from a big consultancy company wanted to be promoted as partner, but at a recent assessment, the sr. leadership team told her that she is not visible enough in the market and that she doesn’t have enough exposure. So, we built a personal branding strategy that included strategic networking, connecting with local business communities and public speaking in front of relevant audiences for her. That worked! She was then told that she was ”too visible”. She became a partner in the following year.
Public speaking and strategic networking also helped many corporate professionals who initiated the transition to entrepreneurship. If you too are interested in this type of transition, remember that you never start from scratch.
You always have your reputation and you can start talking about your stories, using public speaking as a subtle selling channel for your new business and strategic networking for attracting new customers and referrals.
In my next article you will find out soon about most common personal branding errors made by professionals in expressing their personal brand.