How can young professionals use a niche to build their network?
As young professionals, we have all sorts of career and professional development advice coming our way. At some point, we have inevitably been told to build our professional network. But how do we do that?
I have found that having a “niche” while building my network has been transformational. A niche can be defined as a “place, employment, status, or activity for which a person is best fitted.” As a financial planner, I get lumped in with a lot of financial professionals. It can be extremely hard to separate myself from the crowd. Having a niche helps. Here is an example of a potential interaction at a networking event:
Event Attendee: So what do you do?
Typical Financial Planner: I am a financial planner who works with individuals, families, and small business owners.
Me: I am a financial planner who works specifically with high performing young professionals in an effort to help them save time, simplify complex situations, and proactively grow their wealth.
In a networking event setting, who do you think that attendee is going to remember down the line? This applies to every profession to some degree. Here are just a few more examples of finding a niche within different professions:
Banker: What types of clients do you work best with? What industries are they in? What are their specific banking needs? What about your service model is different than other banks?
Recruiter: What professions do you recruit for? What career stage are your candidates in? Why would this type of candidate benefit from working with you (as opposed to going at it alone)?
Engineer: What type of engineering do you do? Can you describe your work in simple terms to people outside of the industry? Can you relate it back to their everyday lives?
Why it matters:
When I think of having a niche when building my network, I boil it down into 3 major benefits:
- Helps break the ice: When you are walking into a room of people you do not know, this is critical. What can you say about yourself that will peak the interest of the person across from you? We all know that being genuinely curious about the other person is the first step. But what about you?
- Allows you to stand out in a crowd: Stop being just another banker, recruiter, or engineer. What makes you different? If someone meets three people that are in your profession, why will they remember you?
- Makes you instantly more referable: If you are in a sales or business development role, this is huge. People are going to remember the specialist over the generalist. If you tore your ACL, you wouldn’t go to a General Practitioner would you?
Carve out your career niche and watch your professional network grow!