Thanks to a tweet from Richard Dedor, Chris Reaburn and I were last minute attendees at a Kansas City PRSA lunch session by Dan Schawbel based on his book “Me 2.0 – Build a Personal Brand to Achieve Career Success.”
The talk was part of a career day for students interested in PR, so the average audience age was 20. As a result, Dan’s slant on personal branding was customized for the industry and audience life stage.
The concepts he covered were nonetheless applicable to anyone working on personal branding. From talking with many people in mid-career transitions, however, they tend to be woefully behind on how personal branding applies to their situations. So for the 25 times 2.0 crowd, here are three suggestions customized for you:
1. Volunteering for meaningful assignments with professional associations is a great mid-career internship.
Dan highlights the necessity of internships for college-age job seekers. Mid career job seekers have similar opportunities. I speak with many people whose current job is “looking for a job.” There’s no sizzle and not much built-in skill development there. Yet associations relevant to you are likely looking for knowledgeable professionals to take on assignments. One great thing about a smartly-chosen volunteer project is you typically have room to make it much cooler than anyone in the association ever expected. The result is you get to experiment, learn, and have something with sizzle to lead with when networking.
2. Mid-career, it’s imperative to assess your personality and get on with changing what’s not working
My advice to people who leave for other companies is always to think about who they want to be in a new job, because it’s the only opportunity to create a “new” you. Dan makes the point it’s tremendously challenging to reinvent yourself in the age of (nearly) total visibility to your online presence. That’s true, but if you continually trip yourself up through the same behaviors, do the self-help, career coaching, or counseling necessary to eliminate rough spots. Become if not a new, at least a “new formula” you.
3. Mid-career people need a solid offline and online network you’re actively growing
Dan’s right when he says a larger network has the potential to work much harder for you. But with a number of years of experience, you should be good at determining the highest value people in your network. While you definitely want to serve and cultivate these relationships very actively, you should also be continually reaching out to expand your network offline and online. Focus on adding people you may be able to help while building the most vibrant, responsive network you can. That’s a far better move than creating the largest network possible filled with people having few real ties to you.
Mike Brown is an award-winning marketer and strategist with extensive experience in research, strategy, branding, and sponsorship marketing. He’s a frequent keynote presenter on innovation and authors Brainzooming!