Fear is a natural emotion or response that is designed to protect us from harm. To feel fear means your body is awake and it is doing its job to preserve you by sensing the presence of potential danger. Your role is to analyze and challenge the fear trigger and make a decision on how to react to it. When you believe that the benefit of risking the “threat” is greater than the fear you feel, and you will be able to push forward beyond the fear and in spite of the fear.
So if fear will always exist, and you have the ability to control your reaction to fear – why is it still in your way? Perhaps it is because there are things in your life that you have not truly elevated above fear. Examples: When the need to eat is great enough, you will face fear and hunt for food; If you need to save a loved one from drowning, you will face your fear of water; When there is a cause you believe in with all of your heart, you will face your fear of rejection and isolation to stand up for that belief.
Take a moment to think about something you want to accomplish that you have stalled because of fear. What would your life be like if you believed the benefit of that accomplishment was greater than the presence of your fear? What would it take for you to move beyond fear and in spite of fear? First , till take a shift in beliefs! It takes a shift that demotes the weight of fear below that of whatever fear is keeping you from.
Let’s focus on that shift by replacing any current limiting thoughts with this new one – My ( Insert what you want to elevate above fear) is Greater than My Fear! That’s it. It is just that simple. Now you need to do the mental work to make this statement a new belief. Start by declaring your new thought and sharing it. You can share it in the comments below, or on the Courageant Facebook Page or Twitter feed.
Share your “Greater Than Fear” statement and get entered to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card on March 9th, 2015!
I will start – “My Passion Is Greater Than My Fear” ~ Kim Ikemia Arrington. Your turn…
The final tip in our series on building your professional brand story is to keep your story fresh.
Your professional career is an ever evolving chapter of your life. Each time you learn a new skill, complete a new achievement, or begin a new job, you are adding to the chapter. While your core message should remain the same, you should look for ways to always keep your message fresh. To do this, you can:
Maintain a journal or log of all of your professional achievements When you go to work every day, you solve problems. You do a lot on a daily basis, so it is easy to forget or downplay the impact you have. Keeping a “I have done” journal will help you keep track of your work and its results. Record the quantifiable impact of your efforts. For example, if you created a process which reduced the time of task completion by 10%, or participated on a project that increased sales by 20%, make sure you are adding these details to your journal. Use them to spice up your online profiles and cover letters. Remember, these examples are the evidence that your brand is truly and consistently in action. An achievement that you earned in the past 6 months is much stronger than one you earned 5 years ago. This is why you want to be sure you are constantly adding to your list and keeping it current.
Get endorsements – Your resume, cover letter, and interview skills are all ways that you promote yourself. Your references or brand ambassadors are the people that your prospective employers will call to gain more insight into your work ethic. But there are other ways you can “prove” your capabilities. The professional social network, LinkedIN allows people to provide you with endorsements of your core skills. You create a list of your skills and your LinkedIN connections are able to endorse you, or agree that you possess that skill. Even stronger than an endorsement is a recommendation. On LinkedIn, a recommendation is basically a review of your expertise. A glowing recommendation that aligns with your brand message is powerful.
Another type of endorsement that you can have to support your brand is a referral letter. This can be from a manager, vendor, employer, volunteer project manager, etc. Most companies do not ask for referral letters, but having one is another way to spice up your portfolio, set you apart and keep your brand messaging fresh and diverse.
Be Memorable – Last but not least – strive to be memorable. What unique action can you take that will allow your prospective employers or partners to “feel” your brand? If communication is one of the integral pieces of your brand, perhaps a link to a professional video would be a great addition to your skills portfolio; If leadership and motivation are part of your story, send a thank you card with a strong leadership quote after your interview.
Think outside the box. Make a list of the types of actions someone with your brand skills would do and find a way to integrate them into your hiring process and/or your networking system.
This bring us to the end of the branding series, now your mission if you choose to accept it: – Build YOUR powerful and authentic story; strategically activate, protect and monitor it and showcase it to your audiences in a way that leaves a lasting impression…and of course, do it courageously!
As you can see creating and promoting your professional brand is hard work. Anything you work hard to create is worth protecting. Protecting your brand requires you to make sure you know – How your story is being told; Who is telling your story; Who is receiving your brand message.
You do not ever want to walk into an interview or other meeting where the other people in the room know things about you, true or false, that you are not prepared to explain, defend, or confirm. To stay abreast of what others are saying about you:
Check Google Often – Start today. Google your name. Look at the results that come up in all of the categories (Videos, Web, Images, News, etc.) You may discover reviews you have written, blog comments you have posted, articles about your achievements, etc. Make sure you know what is out there representing you. Setup a Google Alert so you are notified whenever anything new in your name is added online.
Keep Your Personal and Professional Personas Separate – If you use Social Media to post or blog from your personal perspective and you do not want these things merged with your professional brand, be sure to keep them separate. Keep professional profiles like LinkedIn clean and up to date. If you use profiles like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter be sure not to post anything that will be harmful to your professional brand or career. Monitor the settings that you have on these accounts so you can be aware of who can see you and what they can see. Control what posts are visible on your timeline. Sometimes, it is not just what you personally are posting online that you need to filter, but also what others are posting on your timeline and / or the content they are tagging you in on their timelines.
Use Caution When Commenting On Controversial Matters – When you engage in discussions anywhere online, remember that many sites and services are searchable and content that exists on the Internet never dies. Therefore, what ever you say may be found for years to come. Keeping that in mind, it is recommended that you refrain from engaging in debates on controversial issues that could compromise your brand or your image. Controversial topics include: Politics, Religion, Sexual Expression /Orientation, etc. Your opinions regarding these matters should be kept personal, as it is your personal expression.
Brand protection requires you to be more selective in what you do and say in the public eye, which in turns helps you to consistently “Live YOUR Story”.
Are there other services or tools that you use besides Google Alerts to monitor and protect your brand story? If so, post them in the comments below.
Now that your brand has been defined, it is time to activate and amplify it –or in other words live it and share it. You have already outlined the message you want your professional experiences to tell, now it is time to spread that message. There are many ways to do that. Below are a few:
Your Habits / Activities – Your brand message is not a non-fiction tale, it is a summary of who you really are and what your real capacities are. This means that your habits and activities need to support what your message is stating. For example, if you want to position yourself as an child advocate, it would be helpful to: Have volunteer activities relevant to child advocacy; Attend a conference focused on human rights and advocacy; Showcase your knowledge on current events and key players in the field of child advocacy. These actions and activities are an accumulation of you “living your brand message”
Your Resume / Cover Letter – Choose some words that are integral to your brand message. Include adjectives that describe who you are and how you work – “reliable, flexible, coachable, etc”. Include verbs that detail what you do – “manage, support, coordinate, etc”. Identify examples that illustrate the core message you want to send. If you want prospective employers or partners to know that you are an innovator, provide an experience that shows how you created a new solution or initiative and be sure to include the results. Be as quantitative as possible. Also, use the objective statement in your resume to provide a summary of your brand message.
Social Media – Use your Social Media accounts to amplify your brand message. Post links, quotes, comments, reviews etc that strengthen the message you are looking to share. Example: If you want companies to see you as an expert in IT, post a comment on a relevant article discussing an IT trend, post a review on a cutting-edge new IT book or tweet while at a technology conference letting the key players in your industry that you “live and breathe this stuff”.
Brand ambassadors – Your brand ambassadors are any people that might be sharing your message. A common example of a brand ambassador is a job reference. Be intentional about who you list as a reference and prep them ahead of time by letting them know the aspects of your story that are relevant to the position(s) you are seeking. Be sure to choose individuals whose brands and reputations will work to strengthen your story. Keep them up-to-date on your career so they can always represent you well. Brand ambassadors are any people that you are trusting to endorse your professional capabilities and the message you are sending. Take time to keep them up to date on your new accomplishments and achievements so they can endorse you accurately.
The opportunities that you will have to share your brand are endless. The habits and decision you make in your career daily are either working for or against your brand. Your brand is not authentic if your consistent actions do not support it. Feel free to share below some of the ways you live and share your professional brand.
As you are planning the steps towards your next professional move, there is one key strategy you must keep in mind…managing your professional brand. Yes, YOU have a brand. Today…right now…you have a brand. It may have been created intentionally or created by default, but you have one. This is not about the brand of your employer or the product or service your sell or support. This is about YOUR professional brand. Now that you know you have one, it is time to make your brand work for you.
What is a professional brand? Simply stated – it is the story / message you broadcast to your employer /customers / partners /vendors, etc. Your brand TELLS your AUDIENCE what you DO and who you ARE.
Step 1 in managing your professional brand for career success is to Discover / Define your brand message. In other words, determine what you want your audience (current and/or prospective employers) to know about what you DO and who you ARE.
Discover/Define your brand – Not sure what your brand is? Ask around… Ask former/current employer /customers / partners /vendors/close friends/family to help you define who you are AND what they think you do. Find out:
What people think about when they think about your work / services?
What strengths would they say you add to team?
What 1 – 3 words would they use to define you? Your work ethic?
What makes you different than others around you?
Answer the same questions the way you would want others to respond and then compare the results. Examine the responses to identify patterns and themes. You might be surprised to learn that what you do is different than what others think you do. This gap will help you determine if you need to clarify the message you are currently sending or refocus it altogether.
Now that you know the story your brand is currently telling, it is time to align it with the story you want to tell. In an ideal world, what would you want people to say about you? If a friend had access to a prospective employer and had to tell your story in a way that would get you an interview, what message would accurately represent you? Get clear with YOUR story. Once you define it you want to activate and amplify it with your action.