Your Marketing Communications (Professional Portfolio) and Job Search Strategy
Why is your brand so important?
Our brand is what makes us unique and stand out from the competition. It conveys what value we bring to work every day. It’s our opportunity to humanize ourselves through an authentic story of how we got to where we are today. It also gives the opportunity to take a closer look at what we want to bring to the table. The first couple of sections help you flesh this out, but now you get to be creative in how you want to convey this.
This means you can be creative with your cover letter, resume, LinkedIn profile (and any other venue you are using to market yourself). This is your chance to let your personality and superpowers stand out! Most importantly, this is the only 5 seconds you have to convey what value you can bring to a position you are hoping to get. After defining your brand you will be able to highlight it in your: cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile.
Step 1: Create your brand positioning statement (elevator speech) for your work or business.
This statement will be on all of your marketing and communications material and used as a personal authentic reference to what defines and drives you or your business. Refer back to these previous steps to help you develop this: DISCOVER- Strengths, Interests, and Motivators, Your Mission Statement, and ALIGN: Long-term Career and Life Goals and Retirement Vision.
What are the top 3 unique attributes that define how you or your business make things happen? What differentiates you from your competition? Why are you doing this? What are you known for and what are people seeking you out for? Your meaning for your career may or may not be conveyed in this statement. It depends on it makes sense for hiring, networking or marketing purposes.
Suggestion: Create a fun authentic version as well for less formal interactions with people.
Building blocks for a creating your brand positioning or elevator statement:
(A) What you primarily commit or dedicate yourself to in your work + (B) how you uniquely create change or unique ways you affect change.
Formal: “My commitment to tackling climate change problems includes helping businesses strategically cut back waste in a way that also benefits their bottom line using triple-bottom-line economics.”
Informal: “I care about the planet and climate change, and people often get stressed when I bring it up, so I focus on greater impact with my efforts… by working with businesses to cut back waste. It’s a win-win because businesses typically can make the most change, and it actually helps reduce costs for them simultaneously.”
Formal: “I am dedicated toward strategically researching ways for at-risk students to learn how to read, and frequently share my knowledge and research by blogging, speaking at conferences, and on webinars.”
Informal: “I teach people how to teach people how to read. I blog, give webinars, share my research on the most effective and efficient ways of teaching people how to read so that more kids can get the help they need.”
Your Network Strategy (Your Tribe)
Your net worth is determined by your network… and not just the amount of people, but the amount of quality people that share your values, goals, and enthusiasm for your field of work. These are the people that will help support your growth and you will support theirs. It comes from a place of being authentically aligned with your interests and drives, and that is exactly what we want you to create for yourself…your own professional tribe!
For Job Seekers: start by listing anyone that you can think of that you can network out for job opportunities. See below for descriptions of different categories.
“You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with,” said renowned businessman, Jim Rohn. You deserve a great support system to help you get to your long-term goals. Here is an effective way of putting it together.
The Strategic column is the most important:
Mentors are important and provide guidance when needed. They typically are there to help you be successful.
“FACT: Mentoring increases learning retention & productivity up to 88%. Plus, employees who receive mentoring were promoted 5 times more often than those who did not. Find someone who will tell you like it is. Someone who will call your bluff and give you a new perspective. Make it someone who has more experience than you do here – someone who has been there before. Accountability partners will accelerate you forward. The surest way to achieve success is to model someone who is already successful.”¹
On the other hand, sponsors are there to pull you up through the ranks. Consultants can utilize partnerships.
In the book, (Forget a Mentor) Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast Track Your Career, Sylvia Ann Hewlett talks about the need for sponsorships for people who want to move up into leadership positions. A mentorship is a top-down relationship, where only the recipient (mentoree) is truly benefiting and the mentorship is based on goodwill. This is great but does not guarantee that you will move up in the ranks.
The sponsorship relationship, however, includes the following: A protege targets a sponsor that is typically at least two positions above them, that will rise through the ranks and take the protege along. So ask someone who you think will be a good sponsor if they will help you grow in your position, and if there are any special projects you can take on. Convey your value and what you can bring to the table so that this person will see you as an asset that can support him/her from the lower rankings. Unlike a mentorship, the sponsorship is a mutually beneficial relationship where the sponsor picks or accepts a protege due to a high-performance track record and has the ability to advocate for the sponsor in the lower ranks.
Typically, you want to find a sponsor within your division of your company and have an additional ally within your company in another division that could be a sponsor if needed. Plus you should have another individual outside the organization that is an ally and possibly a potential sponsor down the road if needed. This is to cover your bases in case you or your sponsor leaves. When you enter into a sponsorship, you typically are trying to meet the political agenda of both your immediate supervisor and also your sponsor (as well as your own personal long-term goals). This a tricky to balance, but necessary.
Here’s another interesting fact from the book- you may not necessarily like your sponsor, however, you KNOW they can take you up through the ranks for they are effective leaders; whereas your mentor is typically someone you like and admire but it is unclear as to whether they have the ability to pull you up. This may make you feel uncomfortable, but remember, you are working from an authentic cause now, and you need people to make things happen, and they will need you for their causes, so make it a mutually beneficial arrangement by working together.
Board Leadership Opportunities
One way of building your skills and capabilities is to participate on a board. Benefits include utilizing your strengths and passions, personal and professional development, community impact, and skill development in key areas including strategy and enhancement of your confidence and competence. Pick community problems that you are passionate about solving, ask your supervisors, sponsors, or leadership if they know of any here board leadership opportunities, identify people in your network who are connected to the organizations you are interested in, and start volunteering your time at the organizations until you can get a formal board position.
Fellowships are typically for students, but if you are a graduate student seeking a Master’s, you might want to look into one. Fellowships:
- are short-term opportunities lasting from a few months to several years
- focus on the professional development of the fellow
- are sponsored by a specific association or organization seeking to expand leadership in their field
Fellowship programs can be designed to support a range of activities including:
- graduate study in a specific field
- research to advance work on a particular issue
- developing a new community-based organization or initiative
- training and reflection to support the fellow’s growth
- opportunities to further explore a particular field of work
Fellowships have traditionally been awarded to graduate and post-graduate students, but there is an increasing number of fellowships available to recent college graduates in public policy, the arts, education, and other nonprofit fields. Check out this link regarding some international fellowships: Prestigious International Fellowship Programs.
Your Network Strategy
Networking strategies have changed quite a bit. This framework from a Harvard Business Review article, “How Leaders Create and Use Networks,” by Herminia Ibarra and Mark Lee Hunter, suggests that a professional should have 3 forms of networking: operational, personal, and strategic. Most people use the first two types, but leaders know the importance of networking strategically. (See below.) We added “Bridge Contacts or Networks” because we think it is important to have “connectors or bridges” in the mix. If unemployed or in college, the “operational” are students, friends, or acquaintances that can get things done for you, and the “strategic” are leaders of clubs, organizations, businesses, or teachers/professors. So it would look like this:
- Strategic– influential people who help pull you up or support your growth such as sponsors or mentors, or high-ranking members on boards and foundations.
- Operational– people that help you get projects, work, and agendas completed such as your IT or marketing gurus.
- Bridge –people or networks (online or in-person) that can help you connect to other people. People that are a “six degrees to Kevin Bacon” kind of people…or even online networks like Opportunity, Alignable, or Meetup.
- Personal – people in your life that will support your growth.
No matter where you are in your career path, whether you are an employee, consultant, or freelancer, you should have a network of people that help you grow. This list will be your “go to” list as you move through your career.
- Fill in the four areas as best as you can: Strategic, Operational, Liaison, and Personal. Your mentors and sponsors would go in the strategic column. If you do not have a sponsor or mentor, just jot down names of people you want to approach for mentors and sponsors.
- Where there are gaps– put organizations, associations, or areas where you need to start making contacts. If you are an employee, look for sponsors and mentors, and if you are a consultant or small business owner, look for possible partners and mentors- but the key is to create a solid network to help you achieve your long-term vision!
Everyone has their own method of organizing their contacts through CRMs like SalesForce, FreshSales, PipeDrive, a spreadsheet, your phone, etc. Use this more as a strategic overview of your top people to network. It helps to have this bird’s eye view
A, B, and C List Companies, Clients and Work to Target
This section can be used for two purposes:
- Job searchers use this for targeting companies for which to market and network themselves.
- Consultants and freelancers can use this for targeting and marketing to the most viable companies or channels. This is the list you will focus on first when trying to get work.
Remember, it’s just as important for you to vet the companies of which you are interested, as it is for them to vet you. The best people want to work in industry-defining companies that have a big vision and a huge potential upside where they can make an impact. That is the mindset that you want to get into when you make your A, B, & C List.
If you are an employee who wants to work in renewable energy, you would research on LinkedIn or the Internet your favorite or best renewable companies to work for locally or nationally and list them here. You would target people who would be in a position to help you get your job and try to reach out to them on LinkedIn or any other method that seems relevant. You would look on Glassdoor to read what other employees say about the company.
If you are a consultant or small business owner who specializes in consulting for renewable energy, you would research on LinkedIn or the Internet for renewable companies that fit your target market the most, and target people who would be in a position to help you get work. Then you would reach out to them on LinkedIn or any other method that seems relevant.
Great job! You've finished the Marketing-Networking phase and should be feeling like you are the driver of your career and not the passenger!
1) You’ve developed all of your marketing and communications.
2) You are on your way to building a solid network to support your growth and others along the way via job opportunities, partnerships, etc.
4) You’ve targeted A, B, & C List companies for potential job opportunities.
You can start actualizing this area now and add items to your Action Plan. In the next step, you will work on leadership traits that will help you gain greater traction.
You can take a break or go on to the next phase of your roadmap. Nice job!