Tales From the Career Front

Strategies and tactics to reposition your personal brand when searching for a new career field.

Arrow_Target_DollarI’ve been a woman of leisure (read: unemployed) for several months and frankly it doesn’t suit me. I’m a very high-energy, high-action person and being sidelined has been frustrating. My frustration peaked recently while working on an exercise that’s part of the Reach Branding Club curriculum. As a former Inc. 500 marketer, my objective was to reposition my personal brand to move from technology sales back into software marketing.

Articulating my personal vision and purpose was relatively simple. However, translating that into supporting goals was not. Although I have a classical marketing education (Kellogg M.B.A.), my career path has been more of a random walk than linear. Noting the gaps between my current and desired state, I had a crisis of faith. For instance, an interviewer recently made a snide comment about my portfolio being dated. Thus, one of my supporting goals was to update my portfolio. However, I couldn’t see how to generate relevant content without a job.

Strategy, tactics and perspective

Rather than dwelling on this dilemma, I created an action item that read: ‘brainstorm/articulate opportunities to expand portfolio.’ For me, ‘brainstorm’ is a word that stimulates conscious and unconscious thought. Although this placeholder didn’t immediately address the issue, it allowed me to keep my portfolio in perspective and proceed with interim project deliverables. This is a pivotal point — one where you’re tested. Do you believe in what you’re trying to accomplish? Does your objective truly resonate with you? And if so, do you have faith in your ability to see the project through to completion? What facilitated my progress at this point was a fundamental belief in my vision and my ability to execute, as well as my delight in working with a new communication medium — a blog.

My initial choice of using a blog as a brand communication medium was tactical: cost and time to launch. As the project moved ahead, however, I realized that the solution to my content dilemma lay in the medium itself. My blog is essentially a dynamic portfolio, providing multiple options — proof of performance posts, observations and commentary on ideas and events — to address the content issue. From a strategic standpoint, the medium reinforces my personal dynamism and change-agent brand attributes. Further, my blog is itself proof of performance, illustrating my use of technology to achieve results central to my brand message. Finally, my presence online differentiates me in a crowded technology marketplace.

A second point of frustration was how to fast forward through several years of marketing history. My technique: scoping the blogs of target company executives. When I did this, I found a reference to “The Big Moo.” I wound up at Amazon.com and realized that Seth Godin and the group of 33 authors were articulating and redefining the worlds of business and marketing. Leveraging Amazon’s associations and input from business publications, I developed my reading list.

Who do you love?

A final point of frustration was getting up to speed on current marketing tactics. By using job descriptions and outtakes from my recent interviews, I was able to identify critical success factors and went searching for best practices. What I found was that the bios and blogs of people you admire are great sources of information. What sources do they frequent? What mediums and vehicles do they use to communicate ideas? Tapping into these sources doesn’t require a $250 association membership, a $95 event fee or even a paid subscription. There is more compelling content on the Web — webinars, white papers, newsletters and blogs — than a person could ever absorb. (My recommendation: Use Debbie Weil’s BlogWrite for CEOs as a springboard into the blogosphere.)

Case in point: I’m a William Arruda fan, not only in the abstract (I believe in what he and Kirsten Dixson at Brandego are doing) but as a Reach/Brandego client. I noticed he wrote for MarketingProfs.com and subscribed to their newsletter. There is a wealth of information on best practices on MarketingProfs.com. The ON24 Resource Library is another great resource for webinars on topics ranging from marketing to health care. When doing due diligence on target companies, check out the resource sections on their Web site for highly relevant content. Indeed, the trend in the marketing industry to influence and attract prospects by demonstrating and sharing thought leadership is ideal for the job seeker — or anyone else developing or honing their competitive edge.

Distinguish yourself and be remarkable

Each of us pursues challenges and satisfaction in a different way. Some career lessons are broadly relevant, spanning industry, function and level. From my perspective, it’s critical to innovate and accelerate, to set the pace of change. Based on my own experiences, I’ve come up with five tips that can add focus and momentum to your career endeavors:

  • Connect to your core values, passions and competencies to generate remarkable results.
  • Demonstrate faith in yourself
  • Deploy resources (yourself and technology) strategically
  • Benchmark your performance. This must be an ongoing priority.
  • Perpetuate a culture of growth: share your insights freely