It might feel like you were just sipping eggnog and unwrapping presents, but believe it or not, the first month of 2015 is almost over. If you’re like many nonprofit professionals, you set work-related resolutions for the new year, but did you set resolutions for improving your personal brand?
Positioning yourself as a valuable professional through effective personal branding is almost as important to your career success as your work. Lucky for you, it’s not too late to set and pursue powerful personal branding resolutions for 2015. Here are a few I’d recommend:
1. Determine what you want to be known for
Early in your career, it can be tempting to try to gain as many skills as possible to position yourself as a jack-of-all-trades. The nonprofit sector needs people who can wear many hats, right? Failing to specialize can be detrimental to your personal brand and your career. This year, try to identify the key skills and strengths you want to be known for, and focus on growing them.
You can strengthen your skill set through your daily work and/or outside training, and then gradually build it into the way you represent yourself professionally. This will increase your value in your current position and make you an appealing candidate for highly specialized, better paying work in the future.
2. Create a professional websiteÂ
Your personal brand begins and ends with your name. Most recruiters and hiring managers will look you up online during the hiring process. You can make sure you’re putting your best face forward by capturing a website URL that matches your name and using it to house a professional resume or portfolio. URLs can be purchased inexpensively through sites such asÂ NamecheapÂ andÂ Name.com, and tools likeÂ SquarespaceÂ andÂ WordPressÂ make building a basic site easy. As you write copy and build content for your website, be sure to focus on conveying your unique talents and abilities.
3. Be smart about social media
As aÂ study from Nonprofit HRÂ indicates, nonprofits are turning to social media for recruitment in increasing numbers. In fact, 60 percent of nonprofits report using LinkedIn, 42 percent use Facebook, and 21 percent use Twitter to vet potential hires. Your social media presence should be professional and appropriate on all the social media platforms you use. This means no publicly available pictures showing you drinking or partying, even if they were taken during your college days. If you want to take your professional brand to the next level in 2015, you should commit to keeping your social media presence PG-rated. Aim to post content, join groups, and get involved in discussions that relate directly to your professional interest–LinkedIn is a great place to start.
4. Network and engage others strategically
Networking can have huge benefits for your career and professional growth. However, simply showing up at events with no strategic objectives can be a colossal waste of time. If you’re serious about more intentionally building your network in 2015, you should pick 2-3 organizations focused on your area of interest and that target the types of people you would like to connect with. Then, resolve to attend their events as regularly as possible, and aim to make at least three new connections at each event. Regularly attending events with the same groups increases your chances of seeing people again, allowing you to form more meaningful connections.
Also, positioning yourself as an expert among your peers is one of the best ways to strengthen your personal brand so be sure to capitalize on speaking and mentorship opportunities within these groups.
This year, don’t just focus on being a top performer on the job. If you really want to get ahead, make excelling at work and strengthening your personal brand dual priorities. Your future self will thank you.
About the Author
Alyssa Conrardy is the President and Co-Founder and President ofÂ Prosper Strategies, a Chicago-based marketing firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations.