Jobs. Unless you’re the recipient of a fabulous inheritance or lotto win or you’re a cashed up retiree, it’s the one thing for which we get our shit-kickers on and show up. Every day. Often on weekends and for the self-employed, a 24/7 ‘game on’. Then suddenly that job disappears. Gone. Often without warning. Redundant through a takeover, merger or close down – gone. So too, our work email address, our mobile phone and contacts and, unless we’ve actively maintained our ‘brand’ in the working world, our identity. We become invisible. Even when showing up, we can still be invisible to the world beyond our work bubble. Well, not anymore my friend for this post will be your guiding light to becoming ‘visible’!
Regardless of whether you are gainfully employed or currently in the job market, this post is designed to help you kick the “I’m a private person, and I don’t feel comfortable ‘marketing’ myself” last century self-talk to the wolves and step up, shape up your personal brand and ‘own’ it!
Let’s face it; companies spend millions on advertising to build and maintain their brand image. Well, we too are a brand. We are the CEO of our brand, accountable for our brand’s professionalism, the curators of our brand’s marketing. And as social media and professional social networks such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook Page (not to be confused with Facebook Social) continue to emerge, even more so. (In fact, not being active on certain platforms tells something about you!)
Today we have an endless number of possibilities to build, strengthen or recreate our personal image. The question is not whether you want to be a brand, but whether you want to shape it yourself or let others do that for you!
‘Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room’
Two friends shared their personal branding benefits:
“I started building my personal brand online with the help of Google +, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and my website blog long before I became an independent public speaker. Sharing successes, posting video, images and summaries of conferences I presented at, writing articles on the customer experience including my own, customer delight being the premise of all my work. Doing this showed my network that I’m an expert in that field – this helped me to prepare the ground and find clients.” (Matt)
“I‘m working as an account manager at a technical company that offers project management software. As I’m interested in fashion, I post and write regularly about the latest tech trends in that industry on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. My boss sensed that my knowledge in that industry was of value due to my client portfolio garnering more and more fashion companies, and thus assigned new customers coming from the fashion industry directly to me.” (Clare)
You can see that building a personal brand doesn’t happen overnight. But when you are ready to invest some time in these steps, your career will benefit from it in ways you probably can’t even imagine now!
Six simple steps – interested?
1. A Personal Branding Statement
Concise and to the point, a personal branding statement shows who you are and what you have to offer. As you develop your statement, think about the following:
- What are you good at, passionate about and thoroughly enjoy doing? (skill + interest = strength)
- What makes you stand out from your peers? e.g. Your bubbly personality? Your ability to communicate complex things in simple language? Your problem-solving skills? Your eye for finding smarter ways to tackle tasks? Your ‘can-do’ attitude?
- How do you want to make a difference? What superpowers have you used in your past and present roles and how have they benefited employers and clients?
What do others say that you do exceptionally well?
- What were the most important work-related projects that you completed – how did you master them? Did you collaborate with others? Have to be resourceful? Take risks? Did you have to be creative and think of new approaches, come up with new solutions? Use your network? Now identify three attributes that are common to the way you completed the projects.
Once determined you’re almost there. Compose that line and pop it above your Career Summary in your Resume, under your name in your LinkedIn profile, in the LinkedIn summary, your Facebook, Twitter, under your email signature, etc.
2. Backup that Statement
Until you have proof, your personal brand is merely hearsay. Think about all the times you used those attributes and jot down the challenges/situations you were addressing; the specific actions you took to address them and the quantifiable outcome of those actions. You now have yourself a few fantastic achievements to back up your brand statement. Add these to your Resume, LinkedIn summary, etc.
Now that you know how your brand looks and feels, it’s time for an audit! Enter Google. Search your name and see who shares it. If your name is common, consider using your middle initial or middle name. From there, push yourself to Google’s first page and ahead of that competition by building your brand through content on other platforms such as Google+, Instagram and Facebook Page, always with your branding byline included in your profile summary. The more active you are on your social media platforms the closer you will appear at the top. Using a consistent profile picture helps, too.
4. Consider a Personal Website
Having a personal website is not only one of the best ways to rank your name on Google; it also looks professional in your email signature and on your social media profile. It doesn’t need to be content rich. A simple site with content similar to your resume with links to other social platforms and a short bio is enough. Over time you can add a blog or a Twitter feed, YouTube links, publishes papers, anything relevant to supporting your brand message. You can also add some lines about your personal life – it gives people something to connect with instantly. Here’s mine Jane Telford
5. Add (focused) value
Now that your brand is taking shape, the fastest way to establish yourself as an expert in your world of work is to share articles aligned with your brand message. You can do this by following Influencers, Channels and Media in LinkedIn. Be picky about the things you post, consistent in your chosen fields of interest and conscientious of the value you can provide your connections. Content that not only shows your expertise but also is of interest to your (potential) followers. Where possible, select a nugget that interested you in the article and comment as you share. Much more personable than merely on-sharing.
Now the brand has been established, has been backed up with proof and further reinforced through content sharing on social media sites, being an actual contributing author can add further value to your brand. Consider using the blog application on social media platforms or even creating your own and using a savvy application to share your content automatically across all your social media platforms.
These are the steps that will help you to build your personal brand. It takes consistency and ongoing “construction” to keep the flame under your brand alight, but once you set up the basics, the brand will work for you and open new doors!
Last but not least – you can take a look at strong personal brands like Richard Branson, Andy Foote, Lets Grow, for inspiration. If you are my candidate and reading this, we are already well on the way to building a strong personal brand for that’s my expertise, my personal brand in action. We just need your story to be told right and in a unique way! Your personal brand – sharp, focused and most importantly, visible!
If you’d like to connect with me, you can find me here: LinkedIn: Jane Telford
Driving down the coast with my lovely friend M recently, conversation turned from men (a singlette standard) to what we wanted to achieve in 2017. M sets herself goals and steadfastly meets them every year, with richter scale applause and admiration from me. This year, she wants to achieve something ‘extraordinary’. We’re talking beyond jumping out of a plane, or climbing Mt Everest, or finding the Unicorn who ticks all boxes, or getting her toenail paint on straight. Something that will fuel her heart, her passion, rejuvenate, inspire.
Well hello? Given this blog’s about all things inspirational, that eve I poured a wine and set to the task of sleuthing out the most inspirational sites, personally reviewed and compiled a list that just might provide her (and you) with ‘extraordinary’ potential. (Feel free to share the love with your own faves in the comments!):
A tad of fun learning:
Mentalfloss – Interesting articles guaranteed to put a smile on your dial and get you thinking.
Wizzpast – Our awe inspiring past all in one magnificent site to see what others have achieved
Good.is/Infographics– Love a good infographic? This site showcases useful information in an easy to digest visual format.
Unplugthetv – Swap out the commercials at least and let this little site randomly select an educational video for you to watch.
Tedtalks – Love a good TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) talk.Inspirational speakers addressing a variety of topics in short videos. Perfect commute < 18 minutes
Litro – All you need to know about the wonderful world of books and writing.
Lettersofnote– If you’re into the might word, the site’s tagline says it all: “Correspondence deserving of a wider audience”
Duolingo – Learn a new language for free. Advance for a small price.
Mindsnacks – Add an app and learn that language on the bus, on your break, heck anytime you damn well feel
Lang-8 – Write posts in that language your learning, get them critiqued by a native speaker (and in turn help that native speaker learn your language)!
Justinguitar – Hundreds of free guitar lessons as well as some basic music.
Memrise – Learn things quickly and efficiently, from languages to history with snazzy little flashcards
Mathrun – If you love your math, a simple little game to practice your basic maths skills
A spot of serious learning:
Khanacademy – Watch thousands of micro-lectures on topics ranging from history and medicine to chemistry and computer science.
Coursera – A great little educational site that works with universities to get their courses on the Internet and they’re free!
Openculture – A compendium of free learning resources, including courses, textbooks, and videos/films.
Codecademy – Packed with introductory courses for various programming languages and web technologies.
Udacity – More free courses primarily focused around mathematics and programming, aimed at people of all skill levels.
Aldaily – An aggregation of articles from various higher education journals and publications.
Investopedia – Cool for learning about the world of finance, from basic terminology to in-depth analysis of various areas of investing.
Zooniverse – Take part in a huge variety of interesting studies of nature, science, and culture.
For charitable efforts
Freerice – Why not help to end world hunger by correctly answering multiple-choice quizzes on a wide variety of subjects.
Charitynavigator– This site is dedicated to reviewing charities so you can easily research any you’re interested in.
A few life-hacks too
Feelgoodwardrobe – Find out how to control the wardrobe, how the world of fashion really works and what you can do to combat it.
Lifehacker – The strangest and most interesting tips and tricks for improving all areas of your life.
Zenhabits – A minimalist Blog about improving your life by making it simpler.
Cookingforengineers – One man’s explorations in food, with step by step instructions for making a wide variety of dishes.
Artofmanliness – A Blog/site dedicated to all things manly, great for learning life skills and good insights.
Engineerguy – Kinda like having your Dad on call. A collection of videos in which Bill breaks down various feats of engineering in layman’s terms.
Humanworkplace – Love Liz Ryan, my absolute fave on LinkedIn ‘cos she talks the same career guidance language as I do.
I don’t suffer fools gladly!
I loathe that expression, don’t you? It popped up recently and, rather than poke the protagonist in the eye with a blunt instrument, I took the time to ask for clarification.
You see, I was recently coaching a candidate on his interviewing skills and had asked how he might answer that hairy old chestnut ‘what are your weaknesses?‘ A pause, followed by a triumphant ‘I don’t suffer fools gladly’. I asked him to define ‘fool’. ‘Someone who makes a stupid mistake, stuffs up, doesn’t listen to instructions, has no logic’. Hmmm…
Originally coined by Saint Paul in a letter to the people of Corinth, ‘For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise’, with contemporary usage, the focus is now on the negative, ‘not’ to suffer fools gladly. Interpreted by the Cambridge Idiom Dictionary: ‘to become angry with people you think are stupid’ The Oxford Dictionary: ‘To have very little patience with people who you think are stupid or have stupid ideas’. I asked my candidate a question…
A week before the American Presidential election and convinced that Hillary would triumph, I pondered a Utopian future driven by gender balanced power in seats of influence, and I started writing. Then Trump won. As I mourned in disbelief, I re-framed my missive, then lost the will to post thinking what’s the point. Then I witnessed the marches protesting Trump’s inauguration unfolding across the world, many so powerful they were declared full on rallies, and I realised there is hope.
My original missive focused on an extract from an article in which Barack Obama described the future he wanted to leave for his daughters. It read:*
‘We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatises full-time dads and penalises working mothers. We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive and ambitious in the workplace – unless you’re a woman. Then you’re being too bossy, and suddenly the qualities you thought were necessary for success end up holding you back’.
Happy New Year!
Now about those New Year Resolutions. Are you a ‘big bodacious hairy goal’ setter? A crafter of sweet personal commitment lists? Or do you sit in the camp of ‘I always break ’em by February so why bother’? Judging from the volume of motivational New Year quotes shared by friends and family on Facebook January 1st, seems a lot of us have intention. I searched for mine:
‘Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book, write a good one’
‘365 new days, 365 new chances’
Right, so the new year has the same amount of days as last year. Good to know; and clearly the world will end on December 31st, better get cracking, pop the book publisher on speed dial and to hell with the editing.
‘New year, new feels, new chances, same dreams, fresh starts’
‘What if you simply devoted this year to loving yourself more?’
Valid point, why not? Could do with a regular massage, pedicure, retail therapy, oh yes, a lot of retail therapy.
The end of a year, a propensity for pondering the next – let’s see now… a handsome rich lover? 60% pay rise? unlimited world travel? (a spot on the comedy circuit?) Yep! It’s time to revisit the bucket list. To tick off the year’s conquests (interior makeover, explore Croatia, celebrate pesky big 60 in Paris, nail social media branding expertise), and add more for the coming year (learn the Flute, conquer the French language, learn to write code).
It’s also time to think about a few simple lifestyle enhancements for the coming year; shared of course for that’s what the blog’s all about. Enhancing our lifestyles. Did a spot of sleuthing across the mags and bloggers and curated my top 10. This will be our year of ‘Be’s’…
- Be radiant: Buy one new nourishing skin care product to combat long dehydrating summer months, refresh and rejuvenate – our complexions will thank us
- Be bright: Book a rapid teeth whitening session with our dentist or invest in a whitening kit – bright white smiles strip years off our faces
- Be bold: A new red lipstick – ever so french and perfect for setting off that gleaming smile – a Cosmetician to help select the right shade for our complexion of course
- Be nourished: Shift the focus from weight and calories to health and nutrition – out with empty white carbs, in with nourishing, nutrient-dense real whole foods
- Be energised: No such thing as ‘no time’. Make time for exercise, from simple 15 minutes quickies to something more substantial, our bodies will thank us
- Be stimulated: Keep the brain active with apps like Lumosity for brain stimulation, Babble for languages, Ted Talks and Pod Casts for intellectual enhancement
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