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:
- CEO’s – Tony Hirsch, Richard Branson
- Marketers – Brian Solis, Seth Godin
- Entrepreneurs – Guy Kawasaki, Gary Vaynerchuk
- Authors – Tim Ferriss, Penelope Trunk
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.