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  • Blue Collar Personal Branding

    There has been chatter of Personal Branding and promoting yourself online as something that is only for high profile positions, or for jobs and careers that are marketing, PR or media related. In the mainstream, honestly, I think this is true.

    Some high profile personal brands are:

    When is the last time you heard of a construction worker getting a job due to branding himself? What about someone who is homeless? A server or waitress?

    These are the personal brands that can have the most impact on career transitions and creating a lifestyle than a lateral move in the corporate world. The working class, entry level and blue color workers have the skills, experience and drive that can get them out of paycheck to paycheck by promoting these qualities through new media outlets.

    Working with local Orlando nonprofit groups, career education center and associations, I have talked and helped many individuals paint pictures of what the Internet can do for your career if you have the drive and the vision to see what it is you wish to accomplish with your life.

    Not every person aspires to be an entrepreneur or a social media guru, a YouTube star or be location independent. Reality is that most people would love a job where they can pay their bills, take care of their family and have some time and opportunity to enjoy life outside of work.

    Here are the 5 things I tell them to start taking action in their career development – even in this economy, even if they have a decent job and even if they have nothing and need to start from scratch.

    1. Find what makes you special

    Everyone that I encounter has a special intangible quality. You need to take this quality and put it on paper and work backwards to see how you can use that special quality and improve your career situation.

    When working with a homeless individual, we started to improve his confidence level after finding what it was that made him special before he became homeless. He said it was his ability to entertain people and make them happy through his cooking. We had him open up about his previous jobs as a chef and realized that we had an entire new path with which to promote him to local companies. Less than 48 hours later, we helped him into an assistant banquet manager position where he was again having that feeling of making people happy through his cooking.

    2. Having nothing online is just as bad as having something negative

    One thing many people know about having stuff about them online is to not have something that shows them in a negative light, specifically videos and pictures. What they fail to realize is that if they have nothing online, they are seen to not have any initiative for promoting themselves and their career.

    When we worked with a young retail professional who was looking to jump from an hourly position to a management position, we worked with her to not only clean up her online reputation but also to start making connections with relevant industry professionals. This started by answering questions related to the retail world on LinkedIn and Yahoo! Answers. Then she started to connect with top retail brands through Facebook fan pages and Twitter. After a few weeks of building credibility and showing initiative, she was able to move into a department store’s MIT program.

    3. Document things with multimedia

    This one was tough for many of the lower income groups we worked with, but we were surprised by how much media they didn’t realize they had. There was a crane operator from New Jersey who had pictures from the past 20 years of the job sites he had been a part of. From Trump Towers in NYC to bringing in million dollar pianos into multi-million dollar penthouses and everything in between.

    There was also a mechanic who had a huge collection of before and after pictures of restored cars, fix ups and show cars. He even had videos of car shows where he had won trophies and other best of event type awards. By getting these things online and marketing them to their intended audience, they can increase business for not only themselves, but the companies that they work for.

    4. Think like a recruiter

    This is my SEO for beginners part of the session. I ask them to use Google, or think how they would use Google to find someone to fill a job, find a local company or search for information on a service they offered. Using this mindset is what we use to put together content for resumes, blog posts, websites, videos, in pictures and other things that they put online. If they want to be found, they need to be put in a position to be found.

    5. Begin to think bigger than your current life situation

    If they dream of becoming a fashion designer, they need to start working on the things today to be that person in 6 months, 3 years or 10 years. Just because you are working at a retail store in the mall does not mean you will be there forever, but you need to take initiative. If you want to break free from the company you are working at, start taking steps to gain clients on the side. Begin finding mentors, listening to industry leaders and giving your input to what top bloggers, social media types and people online are saying.

    I always loved the quote:

    “Physical networks are the people you know, online networks are the people you want to know.”

    This holds true for the blue collar and entry level workers. By building your brand and credibility through online channels, you open yourself up to the unknown, you open yourself up to people that can help advance your career and you open more doors which can lead you to living the rock star lifestyle that you always thought you could.

    Guest author:

    Greg Rollett is a Gen-Y marketing guy who helps young professionals, small businesses and adventurous individuals live the Rock Star Life. Contact him via email or on Twitter.

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    Posted in eBrand, guest post, Marketing, Personal Branding, Social Media, Success Strategies
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    9 comments on “Blue Collar Personal Branding
    1. avatar

      I have friends who work in ‘blue collar’ jobs and whilst they would love to improve their career prospects put more credibility in face to face relationships and networking than online. If you were coaching this demographic how would you motivate them and how would you ensure they were able to effectively build their brand if they have little experience in doing this?

      • avatar
        Greg Rollett says:

        Hey Daryl – I think they have an abundance to gain by reaching out online. To get them motivated I would do 3 things:

        1. Give them something tangible – maybe that’s a blog, a website or even a social networking profile, just something that they can see, touch, feel.

        2. I would check out competition. What are they doing, who are they talking to, what are they doing online, etc? This will give you a good idea of a direction to move in.

        3. Have them participate. Comment on sites, ask and answer questions and introduce themselves to people they want to know. They will be surprised by the number of people who reach back and continue the conversation and strengthen the relationship.

        I hope that help!

    2. avatar
      Mary H Ruth says:

      YES! This message needs to be spread much more widely. If the internet is as powerful as geeks claim, it includes ALL of us, ESPECIALLY those who feel stuck in a job that doesn’t satisfy or use their best skills.

      Thanks very much for helping to get this ultra-important message out.

    3. avatar

      Great message Greg! (of course I’m a little partial to these folks). I absolutely love the first sentence under item #1. Social networking has not caught on yet in the trades like other professions, but running with one’s special intangible quality can begin off line.

      Folks, I recommend visiting Greg’s Web site and see what he’s up to. Great stuff!


    4. avatar
      Greg Rollett says:

      Hey Mary – thanks for the kind words. I agree that in order for the internet to truly be as powerful as us “geeks” we do need to help everyone learn how harness these tools and get up to speed. Finding a career you love starts from within, even with these cool online tools you need to put forth the effort to show the world just how awesome you truly are and that you can be a rock star doing something that you don’t mind waking up every day to do.

    5. avatar


      Greg’s advice is great. But let’s suppose the blue collar worker isn’t real active in social networking. Now, the answers to your question cannot possibly fit into one post (some middle age balding guys actually have entire websites devoted to these things 🙂 but let’s shoot for a start. Based on the premise they are already working.

      1. Discover what they love to do at work
      2. Practice, educate and study to be the very best at this
      3. Understand their customer and employer needs
      4. Work to dovetail items # 1 and 3
      5. Deliver past expectations

      The above is like a muscle car engine. It’ll make the car run great, but we want it to look good too. Our blue collar friends need to sport a clean, positive image that is relevant to their field. And they need to work to maintain it, even if it means carrying an extra uniform with them to change if they get dirty.

      Now, we’ve got a cherried-out lean mean street machine. Folks need to hear about it. Every blue collar worker needs a business card. I don’t care what line of work they’re in, there’s pride in dignity in all honest, legitimate work. Hand out the cards and talk about what they’re passionate about.

      When customers, fellow trade show attendees, vendors, associates and friends feel they’re passion, they are likely to talk about them to others.

      Do what you do best with passion and tell other folks. When they really take hold of their work, career, education and life, I bet they’ll even feel like going online and telling others.

      • avatar

        After posting this reply I realize that there’s no way to sufficiently teach a blue collar worker how to brand themselves in one post. But there is one more point to make. Telling others what one does is only half, and the lesser part of networking. Being inquisitive, listening to others and trying to help them is the other, and IMHO, the more important part.

    6. avatar

      G.Ro, interesting POV. Personal branding is all about networking, if you are blue collar, your work speaks volumes about your personal brand. If people like or dislike your work you are creating a personal brand for yourself whether you like it or not. It’s your reputation on the line!

      • avatar
        Greg Rollett says:

        Hey Matt – thanks for chiming in. You make a good point in that all blue collar workers survive and thrive based on their reputation, word of mouth, etc and using social media to promote themselves can def enhance their reputation.

    3 Pings/Trackbacks for "Blue Collar Personal Branding"
    1. […] original post here:  Blue Collar Personal Branding | Personal Branding Blog – Dan Schawbel Related […]

    2. […] objects. This is exactly what all Web 2.0 personal branding advocates argue we should do: figure out our unique characteristics (so as to stick out from the crowd) and write them down. Then we are asked upload these texts to […]

    3. […] star lifestyle that you always thought you could.”   For more on this article, visit: http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/blue-collar-personal-branding/ or for more from the author, Greg Rollett visit: […]

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