Welcome to 2014! This year, take control of your career, drive greater success, meaning, and intention to your work, and build your personal brand. Your brand as a person is attached to your reputation - it is an expectation others have of working with you. When you are perceived as someone who is compelling and relevant, opportunities follow!
- Set a vision for how you want to be perceived
This is your "desired reputation." How do you want people to see you and feel about you? If your goal is to be seen as a change agent who contributes exceptional value to the company, who enlists support of his teams and strategically seeks opportunities for growth, then your behavior should line up with that vision. Having a desired reputation empowers you to watch your actions, language, relationships, online activities, and networks to be sure they align.
- Take inventory of your career
Looking back over your career - whether it's been short or long - what have been your greatest accomplishments? What are you most proud of? What do you wish you could do over again? When you inventory your career, take stock of what skills, talents, and character attributes made you successful. Is it your drive to succeed or your ability to work well with others that makes you achieve results.
- Be authentic, genuine
Instead of trying to be someone else, focus on showing up genuinely. Let people know who you are, what you're passionate about, how your job experiences add to your vision for your career in the future. People connect with people, and real people are imperfect.
- Solicit feedback
Understand how your reputation is working for you (or not) by asking people around you what they think you are known for. You might ask: What's my reputation in this company? How do you think my peers perceive my contribution to the organization? Would you comfortably refer me for a promotion-why or why not?
- Then, choose the feedback to act on
Just because you receive feedback doesn't mean you have to act on it. Think about the reputation you'd like to have. How would you like the people you work with to feel about you? Do you want to be seen as collaborative and a team player? If you receive feedback that is not consistent with that perception, then you will likely choose to make changes to your behavior to become aligned with your vision.
- Integrate your social media efforts
Everything you post online is public today. From Facebook to Instagram to LinkedIn- you are sending a message to anyone who can see it about what you value, who you are, and what you seek. Your boss, your boss' boss and their boss can see what you comment on, post and joke about online. Make sure you are careful about your online activity and consistent across all platforms.
- Be discrete about your online connections
Not everyone needs to be your contact, follower, or friend online. Become selective about the relationships you foster online. This is your career we're talking about. We are often judged by the company we keep.
- Ego surf
When was the last time you "Googled" yourself? It is critical to know what appears online about you (or someone with your same name). You never want to walk into a job interview or important meeting and have the other person know more about you than you do. Either Google yourself regularly or set up a Google Alert so you are sent an email any time your name appears online.
- Work your network
As you meet new people and exchange business cards and information, add that information to a spreadsheet or tracking system. Then, strategically network with those people to be sure you stay top-of-mind with them, and don't lose touch. You don't want to be that person who only makes contact when you need something (like a job, introduction, or referral).
- Share information with others - give away advice or mentor
Most successful leaders practice generosity. They give more than they take. When someone asks for your counsel, mentoring, or advice, why not share that information with no strings attached. Generosity is a powerful tool to building a career.
- Celebrate the success of others
Along with #10 comes celebration. We all like the round of applause when we've done a good job. Why not extend congratulations for a colleague or professional who does something you admire?
- Let people know what you're passionate about
Don't assume everyone knows what you're passionate about, what you love about your work, or your hobbies. Share that with them! Let the people around you see your excitement when you learn a new skill, and help them feel your happiness when you deliver an important presentation. Passion is contagious!
- Contribute to important conversations
If you are typically the one who waits until everyone else has weighed in before offering your opinion (if, at all), then consider taking a risk. Raise your hand, leave a blog comment, offer advice, and give your opinion. Always be respectful and appropriate, but don't be afraid to let others know what you feel.
Martin Luther King said, "I have a dream..." not "I have a strategy..." We all need to dream. Dream big! What if you could run a non-profit that taught underprivileged children how to start a business? What if you were able to coach women in business to break through the glass ceiling? What if you could only work with clients who truly appreciated you?
There are many of us who love what we do for a living. We take control of our reputation and our vision for our work, and we're driving our career. Make 2014 the year you do so as well!