As we look forward to this new year, we have an opportunity to hit reset on our plans and find a new direction. Here are some of my top tips for enhancing your personal brand, keeping yourself relevant and compelling, and achieving your career goals!
Know where you are headed. Without a vision and a plan for your career, it won’t matter which choices you make, because you aren’t in control. By contrast, when you can drive and direct your reputation and your career, you put yourself in the driver’s seat. This doesn’t necessarily make life easier, but it makes your choices more coherent and your direction more intentional.
Be clear about your values. In personal branding, this is often the most difficult step. While it is easy to espouse values of “honor, integrity, and loyalty,” many people who claim to follow those values do not live them. Credibility is only earned when you can articulate your values and then live consistently with those values.
Go to school on your target audience. Your target audiences may change and evolve over your career, but you still must retain focus on their needs and wants in order to respond. When you can clearly know what motivates, inspires, and scares the people you are promoting your brand to, then you are able to choose how to benefit them in ways that are genuine to your values and responsive to their goals.
Focus on opportunities. Life will always offer challenges and setbacks, but if you can keep focused on the opportunities you want, you stand an excellent chance of bouncing back from adversity quickly. Learn from mistakes and reset your goals if needed.
Consistency is king. None of us is perfect. We can, however, be consistent. When more often than not I experience you to be loving, patient, and kind, and then one day (when you are really in a bad mood), I see you grumpy and short-tempered, I’ll write it off. Everyone has an off day. The goal is to consistently live your values and show up uniformly as the person I expect you to be (based on your reputation management strategy). Then I will assign you credibility for your brand.
Use social media. The tools and resources available to build your online reputation are dynamic and powerful and not to be overlooked. If you haven’t closely managed your online presence, make this year the time to do it. Be sure your profiles, images, content, and connections reflect your values and goals; engage with audiences who can offer insight, tools, connections, and resources to your career; and contribute authentically and with passion in your conversations online.
Say thank you. I’m a huge proponent of gratitude, personally and professionally. Looking someone in the eyes and saying, “Thank You” is underrated. True gratitude leaves an indelible impact on others. I’ve known many CEOs who have held onto thank you notes written by people they’ve met, mentored, and influenced. Personalized gestures of appreciation make an impact! (Learn How To Write an Excellent Thank You Note).
Broaden your network. Who do you need to know? Who needs to know you? Networking is not a one-time thing. You must feed and nurture your network to remain top of mind, relevant, and compelling. When a great opportunity crosses the desk of someone in your network, you want them to remember you and reach out. Consider joining a new organization or association where your prospects gather. Seek out a leadership position in a group you’re currently networking in. Sponsor an industry event so you get time at the podium. Look for opportunities to be in front and memorable with the networks that will serve to advance your goals.
Keep learning. No successful person I have ever met told me they stopped learning when they got to their goal. They continue to refine their skills and knowledge to keep them sharp and current. Read books on topics that interest you and your audiences, follow trends, and study new developments in your industry. Then, when the desired circumstance presents itself, you can show the timeliness of your offer and seize the opportunity! (Check out LinkedIn Learning)
Smile and make eye contact. Your body language should reflect your values and the reputation you desire. To be seen as someone who is approachable and confident, you will smile at people, look them in the eyes, and relax your hands by your side. To promote a brand of more exclusivity, you can take a reserved and cautious posture. The goal is always to have your physical presence consistent with the overall experience you want your personal brand to provide.
Don’t forget YouTube. Many of you know I’m a huge fan of YouTube because of the accessibility and ease of consumption of its content. YouTube is filled with educational, informational, and inspiring messages posted by professionals and non-professionals on every topic under the sun. (Subscribe to my YouTube channel)
Be generous. A consistent trait I’ve always admired among my clients who are leaders in their industry, business, or area of expertise is that they are generous. Some are generous with their financial resources, others contribute to next generation ideation and mentoring, and others share their knowledge in public forums and in writing. As you build out your reputation, I challenge you to explore ways to help, inspire, or motivate someone who needs it. You will, in turn, find the rewards to be exponentially great!
I hope all these tips help you with your career goals.