Dr. Kevin Freiberg and Dr. Jackie Freiberg are two of our favorite speakers – because (1) they’re good, cool people, and (2) they are great assets to individuals and organizations who want to go “BOOM!” and break the mold of business-as-usual. We’re happy to share this special message from them for everyone who wants to build their personal brand as a go-to, get-it-done, well-connected, indispensable employee. Please share and help people hang on to their jobs in these challenging times!
We’re at a twenty-five year high, but sadly it is not a good high! Conservative data suggests there are 5.7 million people unemployed in the United States, and the number is expected to grow over the next few months. With statistics like that looming on the horizon, we suspect that everyone is looking for ways to hold on tight to their jobs.
However, if through uncontrollable circumstances you do find yourself in the growing pool of the unemployed, there’s no better time to build your personal brand and increase your marketability.
Here are a few ideas…
We challenge you to start by taking Nike’s slogan to heart…. “Just do it!”
Get good at telling your story. Let people know what you are working on and the value you have added to the department, the team, the business, or even the value you have added to clients.
Take personal inventory. Create a summary of your projects and accomplishments over the last few months. If you don’t have much to summarize and celebrate, it’s time to make s_ _t happen!
Collaborate. Create a list of your ongoing projects and invite others to collaborate and offer feedback and insight. Cross-functional collaboration will make you more visible, will grow your network, and will give you more cross-functional experience.
Make your presence known. Be a player; be willing to arrive early or stay late, or put in some extra time over the weekend. Take a project home and work on it remotely. If you are trying to avoid the axe by being invisible and working in the shadows, be careful, it may backfire! Invisible might lead to dispensable.
Volunteer. Help a department or a project that is limping along. In the short run, yes, it may stretch you and even stress you. But in the long run, it will benefit you by growing your reputation as a go-to, get-it-done, well-connected person.
Get Focused. Rally your team and ask this question, “What can we ALL do to become more focused and more purposeful in realizing our strategy or marketing our business?” Then hold each other accountable and do it! Measure your progress and share your successes with your boss. Perhaps even share your success in your online newsletter or in-house publication. Your story may give other teams valuable ideas.
Be more efficient. Host a working lunch and brainstorm creative cost savings ideas… remember each idea holds a value; every penny counts and they will add up! Ask everyone on your team to come up with at least one way to:
- Stretch company resources
- Cut costs
- Improve efficiencies
- Grow your market
- Expand your customer base
- Help others who are struggling
Again, hold each other accountable, measure your progress, and tell your story.
Think LESS and temporary! Suggest cost savings ideas to your boss. Can you and others “temporarily” cut back your hours to get through a tough time? Can you hire a temp for the summer (think student)? Can you bring on an intern? Can you work remotely? Can the office cut back by 1 or 2 hours a day? Suggest “summer hours”; people might enjoy the freedom! Maybe offer half-day Fridays just for the summer? You might discover that people actually get more focused and get more done in less time!
Reach out. Expand your network and get connected. Have lunch with colleagues from different parts of the business. Set goals, try and meet or reconnect with one new person a week. Shake it up when you reconnect; make it a healthy WALKING lunch. Summer is the best time to get out and get fit.
Remember, it’s not just about you! Check in with your boss more frequently (make it purposeful and efficient). Ask how you can help meet certain goals or fuel special projects. Check in on your boss’s major stressors and find ways to be helpful, perhaps even ease the stress.
Don’t be shy. Talk to company executives and ask them relevant questions about the business. Be engaging and knowledgeable. Demonstrate through your conversation that you are informed (make sure you are) and involved (let them know what you are working on and how it relates to the success of the business). Show that you are doing your part to get through these crazy times.
Audit your performance. Be objective. No one is paying you today for what you did yesterday, last week, or last month. Track your contributions and your impact as a player in the business. Are you an MVP? Are you consistently inconsistent? Are you benched? Are you on the DL? Self evaluate, then set goals and start training to become a better player.
Monitor your style. Don’t be a whiner. Whining adds no value. Don’t SUCK… the life, energy, and motivation out of everyone you work with; it is toxic. Instead, make life at work more fun. Choose to be a problem solver, not a moaner. Choose to see the good in others, not the flaws. Choose to listen more than you talk. Choose to give more than you take. Choose to be more optimistic and hopeful; it’s contagious!
Retool. Don’t wait for the company to train, recertify, or retool you. Take responsibility for your own professional development and let your boss know what you’re doing to stretch, grow, and gain skills.
Stay alert. Become a junction box for knowledge. Set Google alerts for your company and industry to help you stay informed and current. If you discover helpful information, get in the habit of forwarding it to colleagues and your boss as, “good info to know.”
Things to avoid!
- Don’t think and act like you’re entitled to keep your job because of tenure and loyalty. An entitlement mentality will get you nothing but a pink slip these days. Tenure and loyalty used to be valued. Contribution and ROI are what matter these days.
- Don’t ask for a raise; instead find a way to justify your salary! What contributions have you made lately? What cost savings have you championed? What business have you developed? What is the ROI in you?
- Don’t ask for a promotion. Now is the time to do more than is expected without any extra compensation and a bigger, better office suite.
- Don’t ask for paid time off.
- Don’t ask for more benefits, in fact, now is the time to celebrate whatever benefits you still have.
- Don’t gossip and don’t participate in rumors. Stop them.
- Don’t do social networking and personal net surfing. That means avoid Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, texting, personal blogs, etc! Let’s face it; we are at a place and time where these things are becoming major (wait… did we say MAJOR!!) distractions to our efficiency and productivity at work. Any time a boss or supervisor approaches and you are clicking out of a program or you have your cell phone in your hand, it is NOT a good sign!
- Don’t be fooled. Yeah, there is some pretty cool press about the job offers happening on Facebook and Twitter. But one must remember, these people have been laid off! Perhaps they wouldn’t have lost their job in the first place had they left the social networking for personal time!
Relax! You’re normal if these ideas are making you nervous. But you’re crazy if you don’t embrace any of them. Times are insane and everything about the way we engage in business is changing. As tough as it is for us to write and for you to read, businesses are expecting more from everyone, and everyone has to work harder than ever before. You want to hang on to your job? You want to be indispensable? Then it’s time to think survival of the fittest! Embrace these ideas and you’ll build your personal brand. Share them and you’ll build your business brand.
About Dr. Kevin Freiberg and Dr. Jackie Freiberg: World-class speakers, thought leaders, and authors of the best-seller NUTS!, its sequel GUTS! and recently BOOM! The Freibergs’ messages inspire and equip individuals and organization to build distinguished Brands recognized for accountability, commitment, innovation, performance and a reputation that blows the doors off-business-as-usual!