By Dan Mitchell, MLM Blog Correspondent

Ivan Misner BNI Here's a great article by Ivan Misner, the founder and chairman of BNI. CNN calls him the "father of modern networking"

Focus on branding your company and yourself in the marketplace to enhance your networking efforts.

Recently,
an associate of mine who read one of my books and attended some of my
training sessions called me and said, "I really love your material, but
why don't you put more emphasis on your ideas about 'creating your
identity as a brand' and how it affects your networking efforts? These
ideas have made a huge impact on my business, but I don't hear you talking about it very often."

I
admitted that this associate of mine was right. I haven't talked a lot
about identity in my material, and I agree that I should say more.

When I started my first business decades ago, I had no idea how important it was to focus on branding my company and
myself in the marketplace as a way of enhancing my networking efforts.
I understood the concept from an advertising and marketing perspective,
but with a small business I didn't have the advertising budget to mold
myself or my company into any kind of brand-at least, that's what I
thought at the time. So I ignored it. I realized later that I'd made a
big mistake in not pursuing any strategies to brand my identity. It
wasn't until the early '90s that I started to think about branding and
how it would help in my networking efforts.

Networking is all
about relationships. Relationships are about establishing credibility.
Credibility takes time. What I needed to do was expedite that process
as much as possible while still creating genuine credibility in the
marketplace at large. Not having much of a budget, I had to get
creative about how I would make this happen.

I saw that if I
wanted to increase my visibility and enhance my credibility in the
community, I needed to be viewed as the local expert. The way I decided
to start creating that brand was to begin writing articles. Now, you
may say, "What's so special about that idea? I've heard people suggest
it before." Well, here's the bottom line: hearing it and doing it tend to be very different things.

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