The New York Times bestseller “Promote Yourself – The New Rules of Career Success” by Dan Schawbel could easily have been called “Promote Yourself – The New Rules of Success”. Yes I omitted the C word. Why? It’s irrelevant.
It doesn’t matter if you’re fresh out of college looking for your first job or a 40-something mom starting her first business, whether you’re in a corporate job or hacking it out in your garage. Your age, demographic, education, gender – none of it matters when it comes to learning the rules of “career” success in the digital age.
The rules of branding and promotion may have changed in the 2000s, but they changed across the board for all of us. Today individuals need to brand themselves just as much as companies do. Employees need personal branding just as much as entrepreneurs do.
Positioned as a guide for millennials, “Promote Yourself”, released on September 3, has some interesting points that resonate with me as a former employee and as a current online entrepreneur.
1. Your Personal and Public Life are the Same Online
Whether you’re interviewing for a job, looking for venture capital funding, or prepping for a date, the likelihood of the other party doing a Google search for you is immense. And not just that, they may search for you on social networks and forums too to gain insight as to who you are.
What you choose to put out about yourself online reflects on every facet of your life. What others choose to put online about you reflects even more. Saying stuff like “RTs are not endorsements” and “tweets are personal opinions” just won’t cut it anymore. It is redundant and naive to think that way. Just ask Anthony Weiner.
2. Jobs are Means to an End
Nothing more. It doesn’t matter if you work at Google or own of your own agency – the workplace is transient. The corollary to this is that there’s no such thing as job security.
Today’s encompassing way of thinking is that your job title is just a temporary designation you happen to hold. Being the Senior Marketing Manager or calling yourself the Chief Dragon (as I often do) are relational concepts; as in who you are in relation to everyone else at an organization. Don’t get attached to your designation and don’t aspire to hold a title.
3. Your Reputation can Make or Break You
More important than your job is your reputation.
You could hold a managerial-level position in a company and still be thought of as a slacker or as a person who does the minimum needful to stay in the job. Or you could be the intern, who is addition to fetching coffee, notices that just 20 percent of your customers are driving most of the sales, and segments the characteristics of those valuable customers so you can look for more of them.
The point is that your reputation is driven by the work you actually do, not by the job you seemingly hold.
4. Soft Skills are More Important Than Hard Skills
The reason for this is that soft skills are harder to learn and require a more nuanced form of learning. Anyone can learn hard skills with the right amount of dedication, perseverance and possibly, cash. You can learn to code for free or learn anything from web design to music via free online courses.
In his book, Schawbel says that “Companies are looking for (soft skills such as) leadership, organizational, teamwork, listening and coaching skills.” The same is true in business: people do business with those they know, like, and trust. So work on building up those soft skills.
5. Everyone’s an Entrepreneur
This is my favorite takeaway from the book. The traditional definition of entrepreneur is changing to include those who take responsibility and risk and are accountable for their actions.
If every employee starts to take ownership of their work, commits to innovation, learning and discovery and works actively to sell his ideas to management, his work becomes similar to that of a business owner. And doing all this is exactly what it takes to succeed today.
The book states that: “You don’t need to own a business to be an entrepreneur, but you do need the entrepreneurial mindset to be successful in business.”
Promoting oneself should be a byproduct of doing business. Knowing how to promote yourself, your client, your business or your employers takes a whole new level of skill and expertise.
The good news is that the web provides all the tools and resources that you need to do so. The challenge is working on finding the right balance of promotional strategies that will yield the most effective results.
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