Successful Networking Starts with Understanding Yourself

Author’s note: This article is adapted from my book, Network Beyond Bias.

Knowing who you are and understanding yourself and your unique value is the foundation for successful networking. Are you your own worst critic, disproportionately attuned to your mistakes, shortcomings, and weaknesses? To network effectively, you must instead recognize all that you have to offer.

What Makes You YOU?

Your sense of self is formed throughout your whole life, in response to the world around you. And because it is so central to your understanding of the world, it may be difficult for you to articulate how you see yourself. Having a clear picture of your strengths, values, and work style will help you find the people and opportunities that are the best fit for you.

When you’re networking, it’s also important to understand how others see you. The collective perceptions of others is what forms your “personal brand.” Knowing what sets you apart — what specific things you do better than others — will help others find you.

Use the tools and activities below to get a well-rounded picture of what makes you…YOU.

Understanding Yourself: Personal Assessments FTW

Personal assessments are everywhere these days. They can be incredibly useful to your understanding of yourself and your brand. Here are some of my favorites.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 and Strengths Based Leadership

My personal favorite, Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 tells you what work energizes you and how to maximize your strengths. Strengths Based Leadership, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, provides additional insights for managers and leaders about how they lead and engage their teams. Both StrengthsFinder 2.0 or Strengths Based Leadership include access codes so you can take the assessment at no additional expense. You can also skip the books and take the assessment online.

For additional reading, see Marcus Buckingham’s books First, Break All the Rules; Now, Discover Your Strengths; and Go Put Your Strengths to Work.

Fascination Advantage

Marketing expert Sally Hogshead has adapted corporate brand analysis processes to help individuals understand their personal brands. Her website offers a free personality test that reveals how the world sees you. I took this assessment recently, and am still reading through the [upgraded] report.

Hogshead’s books How the World Sees You and Fascinate offer additional insights.

DiSC Profile

My dear friend Kathleen Winsor-Games swears by the DiSC Profile. DiSC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Your DiSC profile tells you the extent to which you use each of the styles at work. Understanding your DiSC profile can help you improve communication and find a more balanced work style. From a networking perspective, your DiSC profile can help you identify the connections you need to create balance in your network. What’s more, it can help you adapt your communication style to attract those people!

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) helps you understand your personality across four dimensions. The assessment results in one of sixteen personality types with initials like ISTJ or ENFP. You’ve probably taken this popular assessment before.

Pottermore Sorting Hat

I included this one just for fun! Find out if you lead with courage, intellect, kindness, or whatever-is-good-about-Slytherin here. This assessment gets bonus points for being an excellent conversation starter at networking events.




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