We live in a time when most ‘full-time’ jobs last less than two years and when an increasing number of professionals work on a freelance/contract/on-demand basis. It’s called the ‘Gig Economy’ and while I know the term draws from musicians, the reality can feel more like frogs. Key to keeping your head above water is career agility, the ability to gain new skills, constantly learn new things, and reinvent yourself to remain relevant. Here are five more tips to help you make sure the world sees the ‘real’ and ever-changing you.
- Once you have a name and logo, print up business cards that do you proud. Here’s a tip: have a professional create the layout for your card, then save on printing with online sites like Vistaprint.com. Your business card is your first impression and you want to make a good one, so don’t skimp on quality.
- Print up at least 500 cards and give them to everyone you meet. And I do mean everyone. It’s going to take you a while to get comfortable with introducing yourself and your new business using your 30-second introduction, so practice, practice, practice. Strike up conversations in the grocery store, at social events, or when you’re waiting in line. The more you use your introduction, the more comfortable and natural it will become. Always have your cards with you, and ask people to pass on your cards to interested friends and family.
- Expand your personal network, but don’t jettison your old colleagues. Use social media to let your former colleagues know what you’re doing and how they can help you make the transition. You might be surprised about how the friends from your ‘old life’ can make connections, referrals and recommendations that will help you create a successful reinvention. Use your business name and tagline frequently, and repeat your 30-second introduction often enough that the people in your network can use it to tell others about you.
- Post photos of every step along your journey. Taking a class for certification? Post photos of the classroom, you with classmates, and you with your certificate/diploma. Snap selfies when you travel for work and get clients to pose with you. If you create a tangible product, take plenty of photos. The internet loves before/after photos, so if your work helps people, places or things look better, snap and post! Every photo is part of your branding. Facebook and Pinterest are great for this.
- Ask for testimonials and recommendations. Ask your former colleagues to endorse and recommend you on LinkedIn. Ask every client, no matter how small the project, for a testimonial you can share. Testimonials and recommendations are an important part of your branding.
- Tell stories about what you’re doing. Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn are great places to post short (paragraph) stories about the funny things you encounter, the challenges you overcome and the outcomes you produce. YouTube is great for this too. Remember, stories sell!
Changing careers, starting a new business or reinventing yourself takes courage and effort, but you can have fun with your fresh start and enjoy the journey. By making personal branding a conscious investment of your time and focus, you’ll be ahead of the game in rallying friends to your cause and reaching new customers in record time.