Employees seeking a shift into the c-level or any form of entrepreneurship must remember that that the process requires patience. Switching to a new, more demanding career not only requires tenacity, finely tuned skills and expertise, but also attention to your own personal brand. While reinventing your professional image may seem like a tremendous feat, it’s important to remember that it’s actually quite common in the corporate world and beyond.
According to Kandia Johnson; Communications Strategist, Corporate Motivator, and Business Writer/Entrepreneur; it’s important to seek out and remember many of the success stories of personal reinvention as a reminder and inspiration to stay motivated. However, she continues, “…it takes time, hard work, and patience to re-brand”. Luckily, she has shared some valuable guidelines for those ready to adjust their personal brand for the better.
1. Create a clear mental picture of your plans. Ask yourself what is your chosen legacy, your strongest skills, interests, and values. Will the job you are seeking fit properly with your lifestyle?
Johnson sites Forbes contributor, Kathy Caprino’s, advice: “To switch careers effectively and achieve a positive outcome, you need four things: clarity, courage, confidence, and competence”. It’s recommended that professionals looking to improve and build upon their personal brand take the time to recognize their weaknesses and strengths in order to bridge any pre-existing gaps in experience before attempting to transition into your desired role. It is this information which will help you create a clear strategy that includes your existing expertise, as well as a plan for obtaining any skills or abilities you may be lacking. This may include furthering your education or even pursuing lateral professional moves to build upon the experience you already have.
2. Identify and recognize your present personal brand. Just because you are not content with your present status, does not mean you don’t have a current personal brand upon which you can expand and improve. This process may require a certain sense of honesty and objectivity. Johnson suggests beginning by “…asking colleagues, mentors, or trusted managers about how you are perceived”. Ascertain if certain skills and strengths were mentioned repetitively or if there are any incongruencies between your own perceptions and the responses you received. Being candid about your own shortcomings, without being self-denigrating, is one of the most important steps toward self-improvement.
3. Create a noteworthy description. Johnson states, “Your brand is much more than your job description or title. It is defined by your relationships, and the value that you’ve delivered over time. Let your previous experience shine to help you stand out.” One option is to create a couple of sentences that narrate what makes you a great match for the position you’re seeking. Use your past experience description as a “selling point” toward your career objectives, and focus on what makes you stand out among the rest.
4. Establish your presence. For your efforts to be noticed, the public should have a general idea of your plans and understand what you’re about. Take time to register your own URL/domain name. Of course, be sure that you are active on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other applicable social media platforms, and ensure your resume is up to date. Johnson adds, “Showcase your work and produce content relevant to your industry on your personal website”.
5. Sharpen your networking and self-promotion skills. Without communicating directly with colleagues via email, messages, or social media, you are missing out on a valuable way to get your new message across to the people who matter most. Johnson reiterates, “A blend of good [old] fashion networking events and social media can have a huge impact on re-branding. Blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and other forms of social media are all great platforms for promoting your passion and expertise”. However, when networking and promoting, it’s important to follow a well-planned strategy. Search for industry prospects that offer the opportunity for you to properly showcase your portfolio, thereby introducing your knowledge and experience to the right forum.
Johnson maintains that “the most important thing to remember is that your personal brand is more about people’s perception of what you do, not what you say”. As we know, in the corporate world, our actions are what give our words value, and sustain the essence of our character.
Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200