Your professional brand “is about figuring out who you really are and what you do best, and then living that brand out. It’s the essence of authenticity.” ~ Dorie Clark
Over the past few weeks, I’ve written about the cornerstones of your professional brand. So far I’ve addressed Purpose, Clarity and Focus. Today, I’ll address the final cornerstone: Strategy.
You will recall that Purpose is about your why — the cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do. Clarity is about determining what you’re good at; what you like to do; and where — or with whom — you would like to do what you’re good at. Focus is about the stories you tell that conveys the value you bring.
Strategy then, is how to get to where you want to be. It’s the execution phase of developing your professional brand.
Strategy is about identifying opportunities — organizations and the people in those organizations — that will help you realize your professional brand. It’s about leveraging your professional (and, in many cases, personal) relationships. It’s about networking, informational interviews and strategic conversations.
Above all, strategy is about people: “People hire people they know, or people they know know.” Key decision makers and hiring managers tend to meet with those who have been referred by trusted sources. And it’s access to these decision makers and managers that will generate the requisite action you’re seeking — a role that optimizes your professional brand.
One of the best tools to use in executing your strategy is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the key platform for conveying your professional brand and for executing your strategy in connecting with those all important decision makers. There are over 300 million individual members and over 100 million corporate members on LinkedIn. It’s the major recruiting tool for organizations seeking new talent. So, if you’re not there…you’re not there.
The trick in using LinkedIn effectively is to have a strong profile that conveys your professional brand and to leverage your network to gain access to decision makers. Use your first-level connections to gain face-to-face introductions to significant second-level connections, i.e., referrals.
Once you meet with those selected decision makers, ask key questions that will convey information you can use to align your brand with their needs. Such questions include:
- What’s the biggest challenges your organization is facing over the next six-to-nine months?
- What are the implications of not meeting those challenges?
- What are the resources that can prevent you from meeting those challenges?
Within the responses to these questions lie the opportunity to be the solution to their problems. Decision makers hire people to solve their problems. Show them that you’re the solution they’re looking for.
So, over to you…Can you execute an effective strategy that aligns your brand with an organization’s needs. Can you convey your value? Can you be the solution they need?
This post originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald on August 27, 2014.