Personal Branding and the 50-somethings!
Every week I get messages from executives of a certain age , partly because of my post “ Job search strategies for the 50 something’s “ A typical one would be “I m working really hard, I have contacted 4 head hunters, sent off 25 CVs, been called for 8 interviews and short listed for 2 – but no luck. Will I end up stacking shelves in Tescos / Walmart / Carrefour in January? What do I have to do? P.S Send food parcels”
The answers are in no particular order: 1) possibly 2) postal address required 3) something different .
The main point I took from this is despite being as pro – active as they can, these execs are still not being contacted by head hunters as passive candidates. So I check out their LinkedIn profiles , Twitter presence and Google them and can immediately tell if they have what the new buzz word calls a Personal Brand. This seems to trip off my tongue lightly. Don’t be fooled! Truthfully it is a phrase that I have only become familiar with over the past year because I had to confront it both personally and professionally. It is new speak for your clearly defined, highly visible, core message.
I had always thought that personal branding was something associated with celebs (major and minor) being photographed getting out of cabs (with or without underwear) after launching over priced costume jewellery ranges or marketing dodgy smelling perfume. So definitely NOT my thing! The news I received a year ago that I needed to work on an under performing SEO, conjured up notions of an inactive muscle group, requiring painful sessions with a trainer. Or worse still, as financial markets lay in tatters a meeting with my bank manager .
So not only did I have to adapt my coaching programme to deal with changes in the job search market, I also had to practise what I preached and get myself out of my comfort zone. If anyone had told me that by the end of 2009 I would have been posting weekly blogs, writing comments and tweeting like a trooper, with my face splashed over the internet I would have been highly incredulous. But here I am! So, I can truthfully say that I have walked the talk. I have also found it challenging, frustrating, fulfilling, mind-opening. I have made amazing global connections and come across some individuals who are simply different in their expectations. Some I have let go, some I have embraced. So a formative learning curve.
A year ago on Karen Purves’ advice somewhat embarrassed, I furtively Googled myself. I always felt this was faintly narcissistic, an activity reserved for aforementioned ego fragile starlets. I gave up after about 10 pages. Even I was bored! And I am me … or at least I thought I was. Not only was I not unique, (there are numerous Dorothy Daltons) I did not stand out from the crowd at all. Worse still I was totally invisible. Whatever happened to ” I think therefore I exist”?
So after masses of research and consulting experts including Karen, it was obvious that there were two alternatives : a crisis or a plan. I opted for the latter, knowing from experience that no matter how attractive drama can appear in the short-term, crises are a lot of work. Eventually there has to be a plan. It was partly laziness. Age does have some advantages – if there’s a short cut we look for it!
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Get a new habit
So to paraphrase Paul Getty, if business success is the force of habit, we 50 somethings indeed have some deeply engrained ones. Some are undoubtedly good, some may need tweaking, a few just totally nuking. But we also need new ones. One of those is to let go our cautiousness regarding on-line visibility and make that activity part of our daily routine. If your name is not appearing in any searches ( metrics – conveniently shown on your LinkedIn home page – mid right ) or getting those discreet under the radar calls from executive search companies, this means that you too are probably regrettably invisible. Gen Y are used to having every living moment displayed on Facebook. Us Boomers are generally a more private generation. But we need to get over that. As Karen said Google yourself!
This personal journey I feel has actually helped me have some credibility as a coach. It is genuinely – me too! If I can do it – anyone can.
What do you need to do?
- Decide on your “brand” focus. This involves basic discovery work and goal setting. What are your USPs and success stories. This is just another way of asking what is your core message? What do you offer?
- Reserve your name if you can as a url on a number platforms: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, Skype, plus the .com domain. If you name isn’t available make it something as close as possible. Use that consistently on all platforms.
- Use the same photo on all media
- Make sure your email address and urls coincide. Lose hottotrot firstname.lastname@example.org That stopped being cool circa 1987.
- Set up a full LinkedIn profile (Viadeo, Xing, Naymz or any other … or all of them) Pro-actively increase your network and raise your visibility
- Open a Twitter account with personalised home page and start to engage.
- Set up a blog – with a feed to your LinkedIn profile establish yourself as a sector guru and expert.
- Participate in discussions, answer questions, post comments on other people blogs
- Create your own web site.
I am a work in progress – as indeed we all are. Karen has very kindly offered to give me an end of year performance appraisal!
Watch this space…
You are a beautiful work in progress. I know Karen will give you a A+! Job well done.
Great post… funny halfway through I realized I was 50. I like: : a crisis or a plan .
Career pun: Garbage collectors don’t die, they just kick the can. #pun
Thanks Jim! Love the pun!
Great topic. I agree with what you say–but your own LinkedIn public profile has precious little information. I think you need to show more info publicly to generate some interest in making contact. We need to know what–exactly–differentiates you. That’s what personal branding is all about, isn’t it?
Thanks for writing on this topic.
Thanks Roy for your comments and thoughts! I have chosen to use my LI profile as an on-line CV and actually thought it was very detailed! In executive search at least I think that is really important. My brand differentiation and extension have been focused on my other on-line activties. I tend to favour return on relationships approach, but as I said I’m a work in progress! Connect on LinkedIn if you would like to!
Great post my dear as always witty,useful and from the heart…By the way – Do you love what you do? ha,ha.
When you speak with and from your heart everyone can hear you. Great job.
Thank you Lorena – appreciate your feedback! Yes I do love what I do!
How I love your presence in every sentence, Dorothy. Absolutely role modelling your topic!
And such spot on advice.
Like you I’m a work in progress re my profiles … an extra pair of hands would help 🙂
Thank you Sharon – appreciated!
Well done Dorothy. There is always more to do but you have made a fantastic start.
There is a difference between marketing yourself for a job and a business while there are similarities.
I suggest anyone wanting to become attractive to prospective employers or clients to be clear what you want to be known for. This is in terms of skills, mindset and personality attributes. And, be honest for the truth will out you. The days are going where you can “blag” your way through an interview or pitch.
Because people will know too much about you before you get in front of them.
And, this brings me onto reputation management. This is going to be big in 2010 as Facebook is open to the search engines and people get online more. Gone are the days where reputation management is something large firms did as part of the public relations programme.
Now, it is part of everyone’s life.
Consider everything you do online is public.
Everything can be read at some time by everyone.
So if you are in a bad mood or someone’s got under your skin, those comments will stay on the internet long after you feel better, moved on and even picked up the phone and talked to the other person.
And, you know the old adage that first impressions count and are hard to shift. Well, consider that each time you contribute – make a comment on a blog post, post to a group on Linkedin, tweet in response to a post… each of these may be the first time someone finds you – what experience do you want them to have? What impression do you want to offer them?
Watch the news stories as 2010 progresses, there will be some big gaffs where people were unaware, didn’t care, didn’t understand the ramifications… there will be some and I hope it’s not Dorothy’s clients.
Thanks Karen for your constructive feedback and great comments. I’m certainly a work in progress and the underlying message was that if I can tackle it, pretty much anyone can! I think everyone should take note of your advice on on-line reputation management. I wrote about this some time ago but will definitely advise even greater caution in view of the recent changes on Facebook.
You can read ” How’s your cyber footprint” http://bit.ly/Lcgnt
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I just read your article about Personal Branding. Excellent article and I believe you defined what I need to do this new year 2010. I need to get noticed if I’m wanting find a job in the Alternative Energy sector. I thought about creating one of those videos on You Tube telling who I am and what I am about. Thanks again for your great post! Take care, –Ron T.
Ron – thanks for kind comments. Good luck in your career transition!