As a result of economic uncertainty, furloughed staff, or those looking for a new job or a career change, now more than ever it is important to invest in professional networking and building your personal professional brand.
But how can you network when you can't meet physically and events are limited? How do you network online instead and how do you get the most out of Guild, a messaging platform for professional groups, networks and communities?
Don't rely on LinkedIn alone
With over 600 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is the professional network online. So you really have to be there and you should make sure your profile is up to date.
However, LinkedIn's popularity is also its weakness. This study highlights the changing nature of LinkedIn from 'professional network' to 'marketing / recruitment platform'. It has become very noisy and many users complain of being sold to all the time. In particular this loss of quality has meant that the most senior professionals often avoid, or ignore, LinkedIn. The focus is on sales and recruitment. Groups are rarely engaged.
Seek out specialist groups on other platforms
LinkedIn is big but it can be hard to cut through. So seek out special interest groups and niche communities that fit your professional interests on other platforms. There are still some popular web forums out there and you can find focused and well-run professional communities on Slack, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and others.
To find these you can just search Google, search the platforms themselves, read articles with relevant suggestions, and ask your professional peers for recommendations.
Why you should join Guild
Guild has a number of unique advantages that make it worth investing time in for high quality professional networking and personal brand building:
- You can reach senior professionals on Guild - because Guild has no ads, focuses on privacy and security, is consent-based, easy to use and mobile, it attracts senior professionals. 24% of Guild users are CEOs or C-Suite executives and 6% are founders or owners of the business. The largest single audience segment by seniority are ‘senior management’ at 33% of total Guild users. See details in Where do the C-Suite network with each other?
- Messaging cuts through where email/social don't - Guild is a messaging app, like a professional version of WhatsApp. This means that messages get through whereas email gets ignored, intercepted by PAs, routed to junk etc. Social media can be very noisy and your messages get lost amongst the noise and saturated feeds. Guild's messaging is personal and intimate.
- Respectful professional behaviour and high integrity environment - Guild is all about quality and privacy. No ads and you cannot pay to get access to other people like with LinkedIn and others. There is the Guild Charter that all members must adhere to which protects high standards of professional behaviour. Everyone has a profile so cannot hide behind secrecy or anonymity. If you want to project your own brand as high quality and want to network with others who care about the best professional standards, then Guild is for you.
- Unique features designed for professionals not consumers - the likes of WhatsApp are designed for personal use. Indeed it is not legal, and highly risky, to use WhatsApp for professional purposes. But Guild is dedicated to business and messaging between professionals so there are features optimised for that e.g. professional profiles, archive search, make an introduction, mark messages as unread/read, send messages to yourself as email, threaded conversations, pin/feature threads, build a professional network of connections etc.
- Guild is still relatively new... and comparatively 'undiscovered'. Which means if you get in there now then you'll have the best chance of building a strong network over time and members are still super-responsive. Like it was in the early days of LinkedIn if you remember that time. Guild is new, innovative and exciting and not yet too big, bland and saturated.
Following are the steps you should follow to get the most out of Guild:
Step 1: Fill out your full profile on Guild
Once you've joined Guild, whether invited in, or by registering yourself via the website or app, you should go to the Profile section and fill out your profile. You only have to provide a photo, your name, title and organisation. However, there are also these fields:
- Your professional bio - short summary of what you do and have done. Feel free to sell your expertise and achievements.
- I'd like help with... - when another member looks at your profile this is your chance to let them know how they might help you. Obviously if you're looking for a new role then say so!
- A career highlight - use this to highlight an impressive achievement and/or bring a more human and emotional side to your profile. Show others what you care about.
- Links - go ahead and link to your LinkedIn profile, your website, articles you've written, your blog, your Twitter account etc. This is your chance for others to go deeper and learn much more about you.
Step 2: Build your network of connections
On Guild you can only message, and view the profile of, those in your Network. The connections in your Network consist of those you share groups with plus any individuals you connect to directly.
There is a section of the app called 'Network' where you can see, and search, all your connections as well as add new ones by invitation - similar to LinkedIn. You can also remove connections here too which means they can no longer direct message you.
You do not want your network to be so big that you cannot maintain quality, or it gets too noisy, or you don't really know or care about those you are connected to. But you need enough connections to be effective at professional networking and to raise your profile and awareness with the right people. For more on the science behind group and network sizes check out our Model for Professional Networking in the Digital Age.
There are three ways to build your network of connections:
1. Invite your personal professional contacts into your network
Just tap/click 'Add Connections' in the 'Network' section of the app and you can access your phone contacts to send connection requests by email or SMS (text message). Or you can create an invite link that you post to another group, or put on a web page, or send out in an email, make part of your email signature etc. Or you can just sent an invite to a particular name/email address.
2. Join an existing Group
Most groups, networks and communities on Guild are private and invitation-only. You will only know about them if you are invited in by the host. However, there are an increasing number who accept new members - sometimes these new joiners are not vetted and can join via a link, other times the group asks prospective new members to request access so they can quality control who joins.
You should have a look through the list of Guild groups, networks and communities you can join to see if there are any relevant for you. This list will grow and all new members are given a link to it. Soon it will be possible to search for available groups from within the app itself also.
3. Create your own new Group
If you're up for it, definitely the best way to network is to actually put yourself at the centre of things and run your own group(s). This could be very informal, a group of your best contacts or former colleagues helping each other out, or you could use the group to share your expertise and contacts as a form of thought leadership to build your profile and open up opportunities. If you have a newsletter, then you should definitely run a Guild group!
Guild is free up to three groups and 500 users which should be plenty for you to run in a personal capacity. We're also very happy to provide advice and support on how to make your group a success. For example, read these guides:
- Get off to a great start with your Guild group(s)
- 22 ways to create engagement in your Guild group(s)
To create your own group(s) just go to the Groups section of the app, click/tap 'New Group', give your account a name (if you haven't already), and then name your new group. Repeat to create multiple groups. You can create a test group if you want also and then close, or rename, it later once you're ready to go live with the real thing.
Step 3: Get noticed in the right way
You've optimised your profile, you're building your network of connections, but you still need to be noticed. You want others looking at your profile in order to maximise your own opportunities. Here's what we recommend on Guild:
- Engage with conversations - even reading group messages is a good start as all group participants can see who has read any message. But ideally you should contribute, whether creating a new conversation or replying to an existing thread. You can even just share a relevant and useful link. Or ask for advice / help. At first you might feel a bit apprehensive, but typically once you've posted once or twice then you'll feel at ease!
- Create reciprocity / goodwill - if you help others, or show appreciation, then they are more likely to help you when you ask a question or ask for a favour. You can applaud their messages to signal agreement or gratitude, you can reply to a message and thank them for it in the group, you can answer their questions in as helpful a way as you can, you can introduce them to another of your connections who might be valuable for them etc.
- Get personal with Direct Messages - posting to a group gets you wider visibility, depending on the size of the group, but direct messages are more personal and you can be more specific. You can DM any other member via their profile or search for them in the Direct Messages section of the app. You can reply privately via DM to a group message which is a nice way to get in touch with the author personally. You can DM new joiners to your group to say hi and welcome them to the group. You can search your Network not just on name but it also searches job title and organisation so you may well find there are people in your Network worth DM-ing.
Step 4: Keep at it
Building trust and relationships takes time. Showcasing your expertise through thought leadership might get you some 'quick wins' but usually you do need to invest in building goodwill and your reputation.
The good news is that it is not a big investment of time. What is important is consistency not volume or quantity. In fact, we've done analysis on Guild and found that if you post too often, or in big flurries of activity, then you actually put people off and reduce the likelihood of positive engagement. Must better to do a little but often. 1omins a day to check in and perhaps post something a couple of times a week is plenty.
Join Guild ?
See for yourself how the Guild experience is different to WhatsApp, Slack, LinkedIn or Facebook Groups.
- Just want to join some groups? Then download the app and join as a new member.
- Thinking of running your own group(s)? Look at your plan options and get started.
Guild is proudly British, independent, ad-free and GDPR compliant. Guild is the best place for professionals to connect and communicate. Join us on a different and decent kind of messaging platform that is purpose-built for business and done with integrity.
Contact us if you want to know more or have any questions.