Everyone wants to succeed. Their definition of success may be different, but that desire is the same.
The journey to success used to be simple. You worked hard, you made the right connections, and you put your hand up. And what made it even easier was that you did it within the hours of 9-5pm at the physical office you worked at.
Our world isn’t like that anymore, it has changed. People work all hours of the day, flexible work arrangements are on the rise and we work with teams and individuals virtually more than ever.
So we can’t lean on the old way of finding success as the only way anymore, we have to implement some new strategies and think about our path differently.
Being a committed employee who exceeds expectations is still vital to any definition of success, but how you share that message is different. And that is where it gets more challenging.
We need to think of ourselves not as an employee but as a product.
This is so hard for us. It is one of the biggest reasons why people come to me to rewrite their resume and LinkedIn profiles and to provide interview coaching. We are so immersed in our careers that it is so hard to only focus on what matters.
We forget that we aren’t creating a chapter book but instead a marketing plan. I love to use the analogy of a magazine. What is it about you that will grab someone’s attention to stop at your ad within the magazine? You don’t need to tell them everything you just need to tell them what about you fits their needs.
The foundation of every marketing plan is a branding message, and in the case of your career, a personal brand. The personal brand is your messaging that shows the world your personality, your goals and your differentiating factor aka the value you bring to the table.
Your brand sends a message and creates an impression. One that extends beyond your work, your LinkedIn page or your interactions with your colleagues.
You may think that creating a personal brand just isn’t for you, especially if you are not even in marketing! But it is a super simple exercise.
Here are six questions for you to ask yourself that will result in a personal brand that lets everyone know how amazing you are.
1. What does success mean to me?
You need to get clear on your goals. On your own definition for success. Remember to clear the noise of societal pressures and messages. You don’t have to want something just because society or family makes you feel like you should want it.
2. What matters most to me?
This is a hard question to answer because it requires some digging. I want you to think about what you value most – in your work, in others (colleagues, management), in yourself. When you think of your definition of success, what type of impact does that lead you to? Think back on your performance reviews, what feedback mattered most to you (made you really happy or upset).
3. What is my story?
This is a quick story, a 1-2 sentence story. One that is cohesive and quickly shows off who you are, what you have done and where you want to go. Don’t forget to show off you, the authentic you not the cookie cutter you. So make sure you are genuine when crafting your story.
4. Where am I going?
Now it is time to focus on your future. How do your goals lines up with your definition of success? Are you looking at a promotion, a career pivot or a complete career change? Maybe your goals have nothing to do with the actual job but more the type of workplace – one where you can work from home, or set up a new business. Be clear on your destination.
5. What matters to my target audience?
When you know what you want, then you can have a clearer picture of who will be a decision maker on your future. Think about what matters to them. What skills, knowledge and experience do they want?
6. How can I tie it all together?
You know what you offer. And you know what your audience wants. So now you need to craft a message that reflects what they want. Your message should hopefully convince them that you are the person to give them what they need.
These six questions leave you knowing your value in a nutshell! This is the message you will weave throughout your marketing plan, including your LinkedIn profile, your elevator pitch, your resume and cover letter or a talent profile.
You will also weave it throughout your networking with your current network and with new contacts. When speaking with key decision makers, make sure you include some of these talking points casually into the conversation.
This foundation will allow you to build a successful career, one that will stand the test of time.
Do you want to talk through your personal brand? Set up a complimentary strategy call with me to go over it.
Remember when you were a kid. Bedtime was the worst, wasn’t it. Especially when the lights went out and the monsters came out. Especially the ones that lived under your bed, or in your closet or in the shadows on the wall.
Do you remember screaming for your parents who would slowly and bedrugingly come into room? They would turn on the lights and those shadow turned out to be innocent pieces of furniture, when you looked underneath your bed there were no monsters just long lost and dusty toys and your closet? Only full of clothes.
The job search can feel like those monsters. It can leave you feeling stressed out and discouraged. And can leave you spending hours on Indeed throwing resumes out there in the hopes of finding something as a way to avoid this scary beast that is the job search! But it is the unknown that is so terrifying but once you turn the lights on it becomes less scary. In fact it becomes something manageable and doable.
Knowing the steps and what is to come is key to turn that big scary monster into some innocent thing! Plus moving through the job search in a more structured and intentional way will give you more control over the job search.
That is why I created The Job Search Roadmap. This is a roadmap that goes over every single step of the job search giving you a sense of what is to come, giving you a plan of action to follow and leaving you feeling empowered instead of discouraged.
This step is vital. It allows you to figure you who you are (and what your superpower is) and also digs into your skills, interests and motivations. It then allow you to create your Career Map – what your goals are and what options exist right now to get you on the path to those goals.
2. Marketing Plan
During a job search you become your own product and you are selling and marketing yourself to potential networking connections and potential employers. Think about the message you want to convey. Write your modern, foundational resume and cover letter. Practice your elevator pitch. And don’t forget your social media strategy.
3. The Job Search
A lot of work comes before you even get to this! But all that work helps prepare you for putting yourself out there. Networking is key since three-quarters of jobs are found this way so figuring out any events, setting up some informational interviews, leveraging LinkedIn – all these different networking types will help you make connections. I don’t want you to ignore job boards, just come up with a plan to use them to actually get a job, go to career fairs if it makes sense and get used to dealing with recruitment agencies.
4. Getting Hired
The best part of the process. It all starts with the interview – prepare to answer those two common yet dreaded questions, deal with those nerves and get ready to shine. Figure out your bottom line so when that offer comes in you know how to get your worth.
I’ve made this even easier for you. The most popular free resource I’ve created is a 5 day email course on The Job Search Roadmap. Each day you get an email expanding each step with vital information to get you noticed, creating connections and finding your way to that dream career.
For your career, LinkedIn is probably the number one tool you can use. As the number one networking tool, it allows you to build your credibility, keep in touch with your current network and grow your contacts.
I always talk to people about the importance of having connections, ideally 500+ as it opens so many new doors for you (500+ is the magic number as stated by LinkedIn). But when you are starting from scratch or even 100, it can seem incredibly daunting to get to that number so here are 5 easy steps you can follow guaranteed to get you to 500!
First of all, why?
Well as your number of first degree connections grow, the number of second and third degree connections grow too. This is key for you to be found on LinkedIn as when a recruiter searches for talent for a new job, say “electrical engineer” in Toronto, Ontario they will really only see their 1st-3rd degree connections and group members. So if you don’t have a lot of connections you risk not even coming up in their search. If you have recruiters knocking on your door it is freeing up some of your job searching time for networking, research or staying inspired!
Maybe you are thinking, well I don’t care about recruiters. In fact I don’t want to be found and contacted. BUT, if you want complete control of your career then you need to know what is out there. You can always politely decline, but at least you are given the opportunity.
Plus, think beyond new job opportunities, a robust LinkedIn Profile which includes 500+ connections can increase your credibility to internal and external clients and stakeholders. Essentially those connections are like individual endorsements of your work and professional reputation.
If you are searching for a new job, then leveraging LinkedIn for networking is a must. Networking is made easier when you have 500+ connections as it allows you to see the people you want to – potential hiring managers, peers, people that may be able to offer some great advise.
And don’t forget those pesky resume reading bots, remember some of them check your connections to see how well connected you are within their industry!
Okay, enough with the why! You want to know the how:
1. Connect with Me and other “Elite Expert Tier” Individuals
One way to immediately increase your third-degree connections is to connect with myself. I have about 3k connections and a connection with me would instantly make you a third-degree connection with those individuals. On someone’s profile page you will see the number of connections that they have, so when you come across an individual in an industry or role that is relevant who have 500+ connections definitely send a connection request.
There are also individuals who classify themselves as LIONs, these are people going after the 30k connection limit. A lot of them have their number of connections in their headline, so it is easy to find someone with 10k+ connections, having one or two would be worthwhile!
2. Use your Existing Network
The easiest way to get a big jump on your connection numbers is to sync your contact list to LinkedIn, if you have multiple email accounts make sure you sync all lists! Make a list of people you have worked with, met at events, go through your stack of business cards and manually search for those individuals using the search bar.
You can go through their connection lists to find other people you may know. You can also see if they are connected with people you want in your network, then you can ask them to “introduce” you increasing the likelihood that the new individual will become a valuable member of your network.
This step is probably the most time intensive, however these will be the most beneficial connections for you and your career so it is well worth it.
3. Company Pages
You can visit your current or previous company pages, or the company pages that you want to work at. Those pages will give you instant access to all the employees that work there and you can also tailor the search to previous employees and specific locations, job titles, etc.
This is a great way to find people you worked with but maybe didn’t stay in touch with allowing you to reconnect.
Focusing on your ideal companies allows you to build a network within them and are great for referrals and for setting up Informational Interviews.
These are connections that matter – people you worked with that can vouch and advocate for you and people who want to work with that can open new doors for you or give you key information that you can use.
4. Groups and Alumni
There is an ongoing problem with LinkedIn groups with decreasing levels of engagement so while being active on groups probably won’t help you in your career, being members of groups will. Being a member of a relevant group allows you access to individuals you may not have otherwise. So looking for applicable groups (school alumni, industry, associations, etc) is your first step. Ask to join and then you can go through the group members and send out connection requests.
Using LinkedIn’s Alumni portal (www.linkedin.com/alumni) is amazing in terms of the people and insights it provides. Like groups, it makes people more accessible to you allowing you to build your connections in industries and companies you want even if they are out of your network (you aren’t a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connection).
5. Get your profile out there
Get people to reach out to you first! Optimize your own LinkedIn profile, making sure it is set up to get you noticed and full of key words to bring you up in searches.
Remember when I wrote about selling yourself? Take some of those ideas and apply them here. Post on Facebook including your LinkedIn Profile link asking your Facebook friends to connect with you (you can do the same on Twitter). Include your link in your email signature, your Twitter profile, your resume, etc. Anywhere it makes sense really.
5 easy steps. That is all it takes to start building your network within LinkedIn. I’ll look out for your connection request!
If your LinkedIn needs an overhaul, I can help with that. Or do you need help with networking in general? I offer networking training and coaching teaching you how to get noticed and create connections. I am passionate about using networking in your career and job search as it has worked countless times for myself and now my clients, next week I'll tell you a little more about that!
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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