by Guest Blogger Alan Cohen, President, Acts Of Balance Executive Coaching and Training
Finding new ways to get noticed and separate yourself from the pack has become priority #1 for job seekers. While this is true especially during tough economic times, it’s also vital for one’s career advancement on an ongoing basis.
In our chaotic 24/7 world, where everyone is constantly vying for attention, it can be argued that the proverbial “15 minutes of fame” has been reduced to a mere 15 seconds, which leaves the job seeker precious little time to make the right impression. There are several tactical ways for entrepreneurs, executives and job seekers to stand apart from the competition, but any effort must begin by defining your unique value and what you are offering to the world.
Aim for Your Target; You Just Might Hit it!
People who stand out are clear about what they’re targeting -- in terms of the kinds of jobs or projects they wish to work on, companies they wish to work for -- and who they’re targeting (the kinds of people and companies they want to work with).
It’s essential to define the urgent needs of your target market and the specific benefits of working with you (it’s all about attracting those people you are meant to work with). When this dynamic is working correctly, you won’t find yourself working with less-than-ideal clients, projects or bosses. (It’s often best to minimize these situations. The right strategy often means saying, “no.”)
"Standouts" know exactly where they want to go and have a detailed plan for how to get there. In crafting your own strategic career plan, start by putting it in writing. That's right; an actual “on-computer” (or “on-paper” for you Luddites) document that outlines where you are in your career, where you want to go, and how you intend to get there. The best and most concrete plans are usually 3-5 pages in length, fairly detailed, and include time lines (as a tool to measure how one is doing versus their ideal plan).
The key is to craft a proactive and continuous marketing strategy to communicate your specific plan. It’s also about knowing your target audience and their needs. Face it: hiring organizations want problem solvers! Successful job seekers must be able to demonstrate that they are the solution. Personal websites, elevator speeches, business cards, cover letters, and resumes must deliver a consistent and compelling message -- one that grabs the audience’s attention and doesn’t let go.
“Every time you suppress some part of yourself of allow others to play small, you are in essence ignoring the owners manual your creator gave you and destroying your design.” - Oprah Winfrey
So What, Exactly, is a Brand?
A brand tells people why they should work with you. In shorthand, it defines you. Author Tom Peters says: “We are all CEOS of our own companies: ‘Me Inc.’ To be successful in business today, our most important and essential job is to be head marketer for the brand called “You.” The clearer – and more clearly defined -- the brand and its focus, the easier it will be for employers to find you (and the less you will be forced to spend on advertising and marketing).
Some things you should know about your brand:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Specific problems you solve
- Who you solve them for
- What the results are
How is Your Brand Expressed/Communicated?
Who you work with, how you speak and dress, the language you use, the partnerships you pursue, the projects you take on, etc. (and the intangibles too: your "aura," your energy, why people say they like you but can’t put into words, etc.)
How Do You Market That Brand Known as “You”?
- Your network/support system of friends
- Taking on projects
- Building a blog/website
- Growing yourself (learn)
- Asking for feedback
- Becoming an expert (speak!)
- Being a leader, a teacher or teammate
- Creating a mission statement to guide you as the CEO of “Me Inc.”
Branding = “Outstanding”
Those who stand out in business are clear in defining their wants and needs, their target audience and ideal employers, clients and colleagues, and what it is they have to offer. They create and build a brand based on these elements, and then boldly express themselves through that brand.
The right brand is unique, distinct and memorable and most importantly -- it makes you memorable.
Alan Cohen, prior to becoming a, Executive Coach, spent a career building brands – from Harry Potter to the Broadway League.
For more information, or to inquire about executive coaching, training or speaking (leadership, communications, personal branding), contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.
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