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…