Over my career I have had to reinvent myself multiple times. I began my career in sales, transitioned to finance, then accounting, ended up in social media and finally branding. My undergraduate degree is in public relations and I hold an MBA. My journey to becoming a personal branding expert has been zig-zaggy for sure. If it weren't for my ability to leverage my strengths and prove my abilities to differentiate myself from others––who quite frankly had more experience––I would have never secured positions outside my industry (finance and accounting), nor would I have been able to re-enter my industry (social media and branding).
The need to reinvent yourself as a professional is becoming more and more critical. No longer are employees staying in one industry, with one company and in one field for the duration of their careers. No longer are people relying on one stream of income to make ends meet. More than ever, moonlighting, or side-hustling as it is more commonly called these days, is a societal norm.
You might be wondering how I was able to go from sales to finance to accounting to social media to branding. The answer is simple, PERSONAL BRANDING. I have successfully branded and RE-branded myself utilizing the following 5 strategies, and you can too!
1. Personal branding is a marathon.
Understanding that branding yourself as a _______ is going to take some time. It will not happen over night. It won't even happen in 90 days. Branding yourself is not a matter of putting up a website, getting a few business cards and posting a professional headshot all over the Internet. It's going to take steady, focused and consistent strategy over time to brand yourself. You'll need to test things out and learn from those tactics that don't work. You'll have to learn to practice patience when you don't get the results you want when you want them. You have to understand and accept the fact that branding is a marathon not a sprint.
2. Be futuristic.
One of the biggest mistakes I come across with my students and clients is they bring me in too late. They call me while they are in the midst of a rebrand. For example, I had an executive at a very well known tech company reach out to me because he wanted to begin branding himself as a speaker and thought leader so that he could land a keynote gig at a big conference. It's not uncommon that executives and entrepreneurs approach me wanting to brand themselves as speakers, the challenge with this particular case was that the application for the keynote he wanted to apply for was due only 12 days after he made initial contact with me.
If you want to brand yourself as a ________ you have to be in tune with your short and long-term goals. You have to be a visionary and know where you want to be in the future. The moment you start thinking about what you want to do, develop a timeline and steps of what it's going to take to get there and actually do the work.
3. Selfless self-promotion.
Your personal brand is NOT about you. Your personal brand is a service that you provide to others. Your personal brand should be solving a problem or answering a question for your audience. Sure you are going to reap some benefits of a solid personal brand (career advancement, a full sales funnel, increased profits, speaking engagements, etc) but that should not be the focus of your branding efforts.
4. Walk it like you talk it.
If you're still talking about what you did yesterday, then you haven't got much done today. Too many of my students and clients minimize their accomplishments. They believe they have to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to consider anything they did an accomplishment. This very far from the truth. Accomplishments come in all shapes, sizes and forms and it's your job to ensure people know about yours. Don't be shy about sharing your skillset, your expertise or your knowledge. Understand, this isn't about being boastful or pretentious, this is about providing proof about who you say you are and your capabilities.
5. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Fun fact: I LOVE Jillian Michaels! One of the things she often says in her videos is "get comfortable with being uncomfortable." If you've ever done any of Jillian's work-outs, this phrase is very appropriate, but it also applies to many other areas of life.
When it comes to branding yourself as a ________ you'll have to be adaptable, flexible and nimble. Things are changing all the time. Jobs and industries that didn't exist five years ago, exist today. Change isn't the most comfortable state to be in. But know that if your brand isn't changing, it isn't growing. There has to be change in order to see growth.