The world we’re venturing into is demanding a very different approach to how we progress our capabilities and careers, and I’ve never seen so many enterprises so fixated on finding innovation-capable talent, when looking to hire senior executives. The hiring process for new talent has never been so complex and challenging for ambitious enterprises, desperate to avoid yet another disappointment of ending up with someone who talks a big game, but fails to deliver the goods.
And while it’s harder than ever to re-invent yourself to satisfy ever-demanding employers or clients, it’s also a great opportunity for many of us who have the determination, willingness to improve and application to take our careers into the As-a-Service world. However, today’s work environment is also posing a huge threat to those of us unwilling to change with the times, or are simply seeking to ride out our final working years in the hope we can escape unharmed with our retirement nest eggs.
However which way we look at this, building our personal brands is the critical ingredient for furthering our career potential in this unraveling As-a-Service world. So let’s evaluate how to make some basic shifts from yesterday’s reactive worker to one which ambitious employers are going to want to lure…
Seven Simple Steers to avoid Screwing up your Personal Brand
1. Get rid of the 9.00-5.00 work mentality. It’s amazing how many people still operate like this. You can’t possibly function if you still have this attitude to work and never take calls / return mails in the evenings or weekends etc. Ambitious business leaders no longer want people who just don’t want to put in the extra effort and time to be effective in their roles. If you really don’t want to work hard, then find a career that doesn’t warrant that – sadly, it won’t likely be very intellectually stimulating… but that’s the tradeoff these days.
2. Be a people person… or at least pretend to be. Networking and having people want to engage with you has never been as critical as it is today. Email and social media is fun to communicate in soundbites, but nothing beats meeting up socially, talking on the phone etc. I know many people out there who just don’t like people very much – it’s just in their DNA. This is something you have to fix – if you’re not great to engage with, it’s going to hold you back. You don’t really need to like people to have a functional relationship with them.
3. Stop being an asshole… you know you can try. Let’s face it, we all have to deal with them. Just don’t be one yourself. I know several people who just persist in badmouthing me and my firm because they compete with us – or just are assholes. Can’t we all get along? Share a few jokes or have a drink at a conference? Can’t we even pretend to like each other, or at least be civil? In today’s world, it just isn’t the way anymore – we work hard enough not to need to deal with negativity and bad vibes.
4. Use social media to promote others, and not just yourself. Nothing irritates me more than those people who only tweet or use LI to promote their own work. These people who self-promote to the point of narcissism, and never bother to promote others….ugh. It’s like going on a date when you were younger and having to listen to someone just talk about themselves all evening. If you only ever promote yourself, people will quickly notice and start to avoid you. Fix this habit and force yourself to me more than being all about YOU.
5. Become genuinely collaborative and don’t just pretend to be. Yes, we all know the types, but the more you collaborate, the more people will enjoy working with you and the more you will learn from others. Take the attitude that if you give, you will mostly get back. However, nothing beats having a genuine reputation for being collaborative – it’s such a big plus in the emerging work environment. Noone likes the non-team players and it’s easy to uncover who they are in today’s environment.
6. Figure out how to self-improve by looking at yourself and being honest once in a while. It still amazes me everyday how many people are simply incapable of being able to take a good look at themselves, identify their weaknesses and work out how to improve on them. Deep down we all know what we’re good at and where we are falling short, we just need to work harder at the latter independently as we’re not always going to have someone telling us where we need improvement. Being able to self-improve is an amazing quality in today’s world if you can open your mind to doing this. If computers are self-learning these days, we need to be too…
7. Be creative and unafraid to refocus your abilities on achieving business outcomes. This is so important today – you can’t just box up your skills to say “I’m great at Salesforce.com”, or “I have 20 years experience doing FP&A, ABAP programming, deal negotiation, HR policy etc”. You need to focus more on business outcome capabilities where you can clearly demonstrate how you identify problems and solve them in creative ways that add real value and future growth potential for enterprises. For example, you need to prove you can “Re-orient a firm’s whole go to market focus to open up new growth opportunities that might now have been obvious previously”; or “Re-define and simplify what data a firm needs to be effective in an industry”; or “Evaluate an automation strategy investment by identifying which processes would provide a genuine business advantage being automated, versus those which would cause more headaches than they are worth”.
Bottom-line: We mustn’t settle for easy, we need to keep pushing ourselves in today’s work environment
I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit I am not perfect – am sure I have many enemies and resentful individuals out there I managed to somehow rub the wrong way – and I am sure I could have been more successful than I currently am today if I had not made many mistakes with my career choices and business decisions. But I do passionately believe we need to constantly challenge ourselves to stay ahead of our careers in today’s environment. Simply settling for the fact we have already reached the ceiling of our capabilities and career potential, could likely take us on a downward spiral faster than we realize as we increasingly compete with a broader spectrum of people for our jobs and our clients.