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10 steps to reinventing yourself in business |

Lifestyle Business

10 steps to reinventing yourself in business

COMMONNESS - Bong R. Osorio - The Philippine Star

Every so often you are reminded that you can be anyone you want to be if you are willing to put in the hard work. Surely you have read case stories of people who have taken extraordinary journeys to get where they are today. To reach your goals you have to take the time to think how you’d like to be seen in the world, and then move strategically to achieve that, rather than wait for life to happen to you.

Indeed, reinvention requires labor — a lot of it.  But so does everything really worth having. You need reinvention if you have experienced these telltale signs: You’re at a new chapter in life and you desire to do and be known for something different; you’ve been laid off and need to ensure you’re in the best position possible to land a new job quickly; you want to move up in your company and need to take control of your reputation; you’ve been trying to win a promotion but feel you’re being held back by misconceptions about what you’re capable of; you’d like to move into a different area of your company; you’re just starting out in your career and haven’t build up a powerful résumé yet so you need to find another way to stand out; you’re changing careers and need to make a compelling case that your unusual background is an asset, not a liability.

The list deals with practically every potential driver to change, but you need to face two big challenges: complacency and your youth. It’s too easy to be complacent about the security of your job, and you have to constantly guard against it. There’s also the propensity to defer the reinventing process, thinking, “I’m young, there’s always tomorrow!” and put off the serious work of reinventing your personal brand for your future career success. However, the destinies of many have changed dramatically when they proactively developed or altered their brand persona. And in many cases, the lifestyles of those who took refuge in their current state have been dangerously compromised.

The book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand; Imagine Your Future by Dorie Clark is an excellent guide to professional reinvention. The author urges you to reflect on what really makes you happy and offers practical advice on how to move from imagination to actuality. She tells you to take responsibility for your own reinvention. “Professional branding is taking control of life and living strategically, by defining career goals and taking steps to reach them,” Clark declares.  The applicability of professional branding goes beyond simply landing a new job.  It can aid in breaking through misconceptions about your capabilities that are preventing a promotion, transitioning to a different area of a company and building a compelling case for an unusual background as an asset in a career change. Here are Clark’s 10 steps to reinventing yourself for the business marketplace:

1. If three people say you’re a horse, buy a saddle. In other words, whether or not you believe a perception about you is true, if enough people share it, you’d better take it seriously. Make it safe for others to give feedback that’s real. If you can tell they’re sugarcoating, beg them for the truth and ask questions about your strengths and weaknesses.  Google yourself, and don’t stop on the first page of search-engine results. Check to make sure there are no smoking guns or false information about you online.

2. If you’re unsure of your future destination, you might need some time off first. Research your destination. It can be hard to think creatively if you’re burned out. Start exploring your prospective job or industry behind the scenes before you connect with people live. Get conversant with the major blogs, and read popular books that people in your field are familiar with. You’ll want to be ready to meet them and have a sophisticated conversation about the industry.

3. Kick-starting your professional reinvention will make you stand on more solid ground. Begin by evaluating how much time you can spend on test-driving your path and whether you’ll need to earn money while doing so. That will help you determine the right way to proceed. When you’re taking on an apprenticeship or volunteer assignment, make sure that you’re willing to work hard. No one wants to take a chance on someone who thinks they’re too good for the dirty work. The path isn’t always linear. Don’t be discouraged if you temporarily have to go backward in terms of salary or prestige in order to prepare yourself for your next career leap.

4. Leveraging your current profession to cultivate the skills you need for the future is crucial in your reinvention process.  You can often push the boundaries of your present job in ways that allow you to look at new opportunities and acquire new abilities. Ask if there are relevant new responsibilities you can take on. Create a concrete list of skills and knowledge you should develop. That’ll force you to think harder about your education. If you need to be able to write better reports, you can probably find targeted help, rather than jumping into a two-year program that only tangentially touches on what you want to learn.

5. It helps to have an experienced guide to help you navigate a new path. Who’s your mentor? Look for somebody who’s focused on helping you achieve your goals, not pushing his own agenda. And be sure he’s willing to make time for you. You don’t want a mentor who makes you feel as if you’re imposing on his time.  A great mentor may come in an unusual package: a younger colleague, a querulous boss. Keep an open mind and learn what he has to teach you.

6. The branding terrain changes often; full awareness of these modifications is crucial. Find your differentiating advantage in every occurring change and leverage it. What makes you unique versus others? Think creatively about your skills, and the power of your personal identity. If you’re different from others in your desired field, you may find it harder to break in. But you’re likely to be more memorable and successful once you’re in the door.  And if your appearance is unusual and likely to be noticed by others, don’t shy away from acknowledging it, and don’t rush to change it. That element may be an important part of what makes your brand memorable.

7. Small or big transformation must have a convincing narrative. Develop a coherent story arc that will protect your brand and explain to people — in a nice, simple way so they can’t miss it — exactly how your past fits into the present. It’s like a job interview; you’re turning what could be perceived as a weakness into a compelling strength that people can remember. Rebranding is a transition or a shift, not a Frankenstein full-body transplant. You can’t go from cutthroat executive to Zen master without a few stops in between; it’ll look phony and probably be phony. People can sniff out deception a mile away. The first rule of rebranding is to be true to yourself at all times. Believing in yourself is the first step. People won’t take your new brand seriously if you act self-conscious or unsure of yourself. Even if it means “faking it till you make it,” exude confidence so others will get the message.

8. The reputation you’ve built in one field may influence your new areas of interest. This is seen with boxing stars becoming politicians, or movie stars becoming advocates. Reintroduce yourself. Go where the action is, and when in doubt, migrate to the parts of your company that control money, resources, or your leader’s attention. That way, you’ll get noticed faster. Walk the talk. If you decide to be transparent and open, be willing to share your unvarnished reality.

9. Professional reinvention needs a powerful online identity that demonstrates your expertise. Getting involved in social media isn’t optional anymore, so being social media-savvy will be a big help in proving your worth. Look at your online brand building as networking on steroids. You have the ability to connect with prominent people in your industry and potential clients and supporters and to create content that draws them to you.  Don’t discount the power of offline vehicles, either. Offline plus online will make your brand building inline.  Seek out a leadership role in industry groups, begin public speaking, and consider starting your own organization so you can raise your profile and become a connection hub.

10. Rebranding is never a done deal. It’s an ongoing process, not a onetime activity, so keep monitoring your reputation to ensure others are perceiving you the way you’d like. Keep it going. Reevaluate periodically. Your goals might have seemed great at the time, but if they’re making you unhappy now or don’t fit where you are at this point in your life, go ahead and reconsider them.  Your old brand never goes away. But if you’re thoughtful about the process, your past experiences can add to and enrich your personal brand, even if there have been struggles along the way.

In your reinvention process, obstacles will most likely deter you. But five-time NBA MVP and six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan believes that they don’t have to stop you: “If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

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