The holiday fun is over and its time to get back to work. Theres no better time to start planning for the personal branding that will carry your career through 2006 and beyond. Even if youre content in your current job, its important to strengthen your image. You never know when life may take a dramatic turn.It might seem like a lot, but you need to set aside a minimum of 15 minutes a day to build your brand. You can do many things in that short time that will help build visibility, credibility and a strong personal portfolio.Here's a short list to get you started:
- Refine your "elevator" pitch, the short speech that you use to sell yourselves to others. The best ones simply don't materialize overnight. They come from continuously refining and condensing the message down to its core elements. Spend time every week tweaking your pitch. Test it out on friends, just to make sure its right on.
- Update your resume. This can be done in increments. List your best, most recent accomplishments and put them into clear, catchy phrases that can be inserted into any resume or personal self-promotion. Remember to use real, current accomplishments here, not tired language about where you went to school or what happened 10 years ago. What have you done lately?
- Call a couple of magazines or web sites, introduce yourself to an editor, and pitch an idea for an article. Spend just a few minutes on the phone and follow up via email with your credentials and an abstract for an article. Believe it or not, theyll often say yes. They need writers, especially those who write for free. Say you cant write? Nonsense. Youve got time, and plenty of friends to help. Getting published gets you noticed, now or later.
- Do some vanity searches. Google yourself on the web. Try it on several search engines. Remember to use the quotes around your name so you won't get a lot of unrelated queries. Not showing up? Its time to get busy building that brand.
- Start a personal blog. Its the quickest way to get yourself published. Work hard on the content, and make sure that what you write is building your brand. Be smart, interesting, humorous. Dont gossip or throw stones, which dont earn you respect. And you have to be serious about updating your blog. It might take six months or more, but if you persist, people will eventually start to read it and pass your name around.
- Research the industry trade shows scheduled for 2006. Find out which shows or conferences are best for learning something new and networking. See if you can get yourself on the slate of speakers. If not, find out what you need to do to get your name down for next year.
- If you havent already, start your own personal website. This is another way you can promote yourself. Keep it professional if you want future employers to visit the site. This requires a lot of time, too, so try to do a little bit every day.
- Last but not least, renew your professional memberships even if you have to pay for them yourself. Having key affiliations and getting to know the people in the organization are inexpensive forms of building your brand.