Having just finished re-watching the movie, Julie and Julia, I’m struck by how personal blogging has morphed into personal branding over the last decade. Julie Powell launched her food blog, providing readers a daily dose of meal prep and instruction based on The Art of French Cooking, the cookbook that revolutionized American cooking in the 60s.
The movie portrays a 30-year-old governmental worker/writer in various stages of emotional meltdown and marital woe, but, in the end, she triumphs.
Powell dedicated one year to working her way through 524 recipes as an homage to the inimitable Julia Child and also as a means of self-expression and proof that she could (and would) “finish something!” Without trying, Powell created her personal brand via her blog. Her write up in the New York Times generated a wellspring of support from both traditional media and publishing; a book deal and movie became the fruits of her labor.
Having received an advance copy of Dan Schawbel’s new book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, I was curious what advice he might have offered Powell (or any other person) trying to succeed in a world of constant change. How does a worker stand apart from the crowd? Now that blogging has become ubiquitous, what other tactics might he recommend?
Dan Schawbel, recognized as the “personal branding guru” by the New York Times and a popular career and workplace expert, writes for Gen Y just starting their ‘first job’ as well as for seasoned veterans who want to up their game. After perusing the book, I’d like to share what I learned from Dan about personal branding and promotion, the questions he might ask and the advice he could offer in order to help you navigate today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.
Be More than Your Job Description – People who adapt, survive; people who don’t, won’t. It’s imperative to stay current with industry trends and technology, or you’ll soon find yourself irrelevant. Ultimately, you’re the one who decides which skills to master and how you spend your time; the more time you invest in learning skills that are in high demand, the more valuable you become. When you master the right hard skills that relate to your profession and industry, people will notice your talents and ask you to work on projects with them. You’ll become the go- to-employee.
Leverage Your Emotional Intelligence – There’s more to career advancement than job results. Interpersonal skills are increasingly becoming the yardstick by which managers determine an employee’s advancement potential. These are ‘soft’ skills that enable you to form relationships with coworkers, fit into the corporate culture and communicate well. By gaining and mastering such skills as optimism, strong work ethic, tactfulness, empathy and humor, you’ll become the person everyone wants to work with. Dan also details how you can learn to develop emotional intelligence. This chapter alone is worth your time if you feel you’ve over invested in hard skills, like technical expertise, at the expense of people skills.
Use the Web to Build Your Personal Brand – Think of social media as assets that you’ll be building on throughout your career. The networks you build can help you stay connected with people you know and build new connections with people you don’t know. And, the more people you know, the easier it becomes to open doors to new opportunities. Build and use your networks wisely now, and they’ll pay big dividends later.
How to Gain Visibility Without Being Overly Self-promotional – Career advancement isn’t going to happen unless you’re persistent in letting people know what it is you can do and where you can make the biggest contribution to your company. All that added attention will earn you more respect from the people you work with, and more confidence—along with even more visibility and important projects—from the people you work for. The best way to proactively build your online brand is by making deliberate postings that position you the way you want to be seen. That could be thoughtful comments on articles related to your job, relevant information you publish on Twitter and your personal blog, or videos you post showcasing your latest project.
What Managers Look for When They Decide Whom to Promote – Your online brand is how you position yourself in the company, how you demonstrate your expertise, how you define the way managers and coworkers see you. Not surprisingly, soft skills were at the top of Dan’s list. Based on his company surveying 1,000 managers, he found that the ability to prioritize work, to maintain a positive attitude and to demonstrate teamwork were skills most in demand when managers talked about promoting the next generation of leaders.
The Importance of Developing Cross-generational Relationships – When it comes to dealing with older generations, developing skills your audience values is important. When you understand how different generations operate as well as their feelings and what motivates their behavior, you’ll have a much easier time forming relationships with them. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to describing and defining four generations. It’s worth reading if you’ve been puzzled by a coworker’s behavior or expectations.
How to Build Your Network at Work and Beyond – “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.” I love that quote by Keith Ferrazzi, author, Never Eat Lunch Alone. If you remember that building business relationships is a lot like dating, then you won’t have any trouble following Dan’s four rules for success:
- Target the individuals you click with right away and whose company you enjoy. Keep the 80/20 principle in mind; businesses derive 80% of their revenues from 20% of their customers. It’s a similar thing with building relationships.
- Mutually beneficial relationships will stand the test of time. The people you want to get to know have to get at least as much out of the relationship as you do.
- Reaching out sincerely to help others without asking anything in return is the cornerstone for all successful networkers. When you give without strings, people will naturally want to help you.
- Be authentic. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) estimate that by 2015, 60 percent of new jobs will require skills only 20 percent of the population currently has. How do you know which skills you’ll need in the future? Dan offers some current trends that provide basic direction: seventy-one percent (71%) of employers say they value emotional intelligence over IQ, according to CareerBuilder.com. Fifty-nine percent (59%) would not hire someone with a high IQ but low emotional intelligence.
Your online brand is how you position yourself in the company, how you demonstrate your expertise, how you define the way managers and coworkers see you. Managing your online brand is one of the most powerful tools for your career advancement. It’s something you need to do thoughtfully, regularly and proactively.
Now that you understand the importance of people skills, what changes will you be making in how you promote yourself both within your company and externally to your social networks? Is there a blog in your future?
Top Photo credit: Flickr