Everyone in the workforce, irrespective of stature or level therein, must be mindful of one critical truth when it comes to career advancement: your brand goes wherever you go…because your “brand” is you! Those seeking to move forward in their career would do well to embrace the “You, Inc.” concept—the philosophy that YOU are the CEO, the administrative and financial manager, the research and development manager, the marketing manager, and the sales manager of your own career—whether you are entry-level or a seasoned executive.
Like any important, high-level managerial position, it’s imperative to conduct yourself accordingly to successfully navigate today’s cut throat competitive, ever-evolving job market. Long gone are the days where simply showing up and working hard would ensure you had a job for life. Now, staffers at every level must continually assess, maintain and proactively demonstrate their employability to prove, without any doubt, the value they bring to the position, department and company at large. While there are many factors involved in achieving this ongoing feat, a key way to achieve this is through “personal marketing.”
Personal branding, which you may already be familiar with, and personal marketing are two separate but interrelated aspects of You, Inc. With personal branding, your name is your brand and you want to assure its visibility and with a favorable image. Personal marketing is the strategic development and marketing of that brand—a means of achieving your personal branding goals and objectives.
The following 10 mistakes and related methodologies will guide you, step by step, through key personal marketing pitfalls and processes that will not only strengthen your personal brand but will also help develop and improve your current employability and overall career potential
Mistake #1. Inadequate Positive Complicity
This is the concept of treating everyone the same, with equal respect, regardless of position, from the cleaning crew to the CEO of the company. Positive complicity goes beyond simply being nice to everyone and extends to connecting with someone as a person, not their position. For instance, it’s easy to get intimidated by a CEO and try to impress them because of where they are in the company. However, a CEO – and everyone else, for that matter – will see right through this. Conversely, being rude to the cleaning crew because you think they are beneath you speaks volumes about you as a person, and none of it good. In this way, positive complicity is an indicator of social and emotional intelligence, which are just as important as any other job skills.
Mistake #2. Lacking a ‘Halo of Success’
Have you ever noticed a person in the office who carries with them an air of desperation and failure? This person might be great at their job and even considered “nice,” but there’s something in their demeanor that keeps people away. On the other hand, there’s also usually a person in the office who seems to draw people to themselves, like honeybees to a flower, because they radiate positivity and success. What’s the difference between these two people? Take a moment to listen to each. One employee often makes negative statements such as, “I never catch a break,” or responds to compliments with, “I didn’t really do anything special,” while the other is generally upbeat and says, “Thank you” to compliments. Which employee would you want to spend time with? People will believe what you say about yourself so it’s important to avoid negative statements in that regard. Creating a halo of success is all about reciprocity. Success draws from success. By creating a halo of success, we are leaving a positive mark in other people’s lives and showing the enthusiasm and the passion we put into everything we do. Remember, people like us for the way we make them feel. However, this has to come from a place of sincerity. People can see through manipulation and manipulation is never a good idea. Instead, focus on providing honest and genuine acceptance and approval of those around you. A positive attitude generates positive things and inspires others.
Mistake #3. Maintaining an Insufficient Self-Image
Ask yourself this question: “Do I feel successful?” The answer is important because it’s the basis for how others see you. It’s necessary to develop a clear idea of the image we hold of ourselves because that image is the reflection of what we believe we are, and we are the image of what we hope to become. There is an enormous difference between working with a person who comes to work out of sheer necessity and working with someone who loves what he or she does and wishes to grow, learn, and contribute. This difference is a major component of charisma. Charisma is about being you – and being yourself is powerful.
Mistake #4. Exuding Unappealing Attitude
We own our attitudes—the attitude we decide to have towards work, the attitude we decide to have towards life, the attitude that truly defines our personal image. You might not be able to change the way you look but you can change the way you present yourself. Be mindful of your body language and especially your facial expressions. These are powerful communication tools, conveying your overall attitude. Think about what you are communicating and what message you are sending to those around you.
Mistake #5. An Absence of Enthusiasm
By positively managing our energy, we transmit energy to others. This is another major aspect of charisma—infecting others with our enthusiasm. By being pleasant, positive, charismatic, and down to earth, we achieve the ideal attitude of success. And if we feel successful, we will be treated accordingly. Showing your successful side does not involve bragging, arrogance, or acting superior to others. On the contrary, it simply means understanding that our attitude has to be positive and directed at giving others the attention and recognition they expect and need. And what sells more than offering excellent professional services that transmit enthusiasm and showing that we want to keep learning and becoming involved?
Mistake #6. Not Establishing Trust and Success Networks
Our reputation may begin with us, but it is anchored in our contacts and the connections we have with others. Knowing how to manage your contacts and connections is a must. Our network of contacts, which we can call our network of trust, must be developed and constantly updated. We can’t just develop a network of contacts when we need it. This is something that we need to manage proactively throughout our lifetime and at every turn. Obviously, if we constantly look after our network of trust, our contacts will speak well of us, not only because we do a good job, but also because we have developed a good relationship with all concerned. Sometimes, when people are successful, they stop working on their network of contacts. They tend to feel that this is no longer necessary. This is a mistake. If we wait until we are not doing well, we are less likely to tap into our network because we are feeling uncomfortable with our status. So it is essential to build and maintain your networks at all times.
Contacts and relationships are the first step in building a network of trust. Building that network is important because when a job opening appears, companies first look within the company or to friends and clients. In fact, 90 percent of job openings are in what we call the market of hidden opportunities. Building a network of trust requires establishing long-term relationships with people who appreciate us and whom we appreciate in return. These are people we know or with whom we have worked and maintain a relationship of trust, appreciation, and mutual respect. The larger the network of trust that you have, the likelier that you will be employed, because our contacts are our best salespeople and the best people to spread our good reputation. Developing networks of trust requires having a clear idea of who our acquaintances are and what they know about us.
To build your own network of trust, begin by making an organized list of all the people you know and who know you. This includes everyone who has formed an impression of you and manages your reputation. Next, keep the relationships you have current by continually updating them. Building networks of trust means reestablishing and rewriting those relationships in new terms and keeping them alive. This also entails enthusiastically reestablishing our identity, image, and reputation with our contacts. In this way we are renewing our ties, even if we haven’t seen some of these people for a long time.
Mistake #7. Not Thinking Long-Term to Build Ties Before You Need Them
Don’t wait to build your network of trust until you think you are about to lose your job. By then it’s too late. Your network of contacts shouldn’t be used only “in case of emergency.” It is a network of trust, and as such, it needs to be built over time. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s easy – everywhere! Social gatherings, work events, committees, seminars, courses, work meetings, trips, the gym, weddings, parents’ associations, professional association events, sports events, and so on. Human beings are highly social. You don’t need to be present at every event, but keep in mind that social or professional events and day-to-day activities provide the perfect opportunity to tell others about what you are doing and find out what’s going on in their lives. It is important to mingle and connect because it is a way of showing genuine interest in others.
Because today’s jobs are ultimately temporary, our attitude is absolutely vital to our success. Our enthusiasm, drive to work and meet our objectives, and attitude towards our commitments determine just how employable we are. We no longer have the choice to forego personal marketing. In today’s world, it must be done—and done well. Those who understand the reality of the new working world will be successful. Those who know what they want, have goals, and are prepared to achieve them. Those who are ethical. Those who have contacts. Those who preserve and develop their personal brand and reputation. Those who generate results. Those who develop charisma.
Although we can’t live solely to please others, we should try to put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes to discover how they see us, what we transmit, and how we present ourselves. This helps us keep up to date and makes us more employable. It is our responsibility to be employable, appear employable, and make sure that others see us as employable. This will elevate our status in the market. Develop your personal marketing strategy with an eye toward these goals.