YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS CARD.
YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS CARD.
I learned this very truthful statement from my mentor.
What does it mean?
For me, it has been a daily reminder of my own professionalism. I always ask myself what am I trying to achieve? It is important to first understand what your mission statement is, I will follow this post up with a great way to discover your mission thanks to the Franklin Covey system.
A few years ago, a very intelligent and talented engineer who had an alter ego as a rock star of sorts, was out with his family during the weekend and he was dressed in his usual (outside of business hours) rocker attire. While out, he ran into a potential client, a deal that the firm had been working on for weeks if not months. The client was by nature a very conservative person and although our firm is viewed as a youthful and a think out of the box place of business, the engineer’s appearance was over the top. The following Monday, the engineer came to me to inform me that he had bumped into the potential client and the client had made some, not so gracious remarks in response to the engineer’s capabilities based on his appearance. As it turned out, we had to keep our most qualified engineer in the background to ensure that we as a firm upheld our reputation as being an honest and trustworthy performance driven vendor. The engineer learned a valuable lesson, that he was his own business card.
Some of you are thinking that conforming to these standards of thinking are not acceptable in the sense that you may not be expressing your individuality. That is fine, but do not expect professional results in corporate America with that attitude. Honestly and trust are synonymous with what makes an individual comfortable about another individual. If your industry allows exceptions to the rule, than great. But more than likely, presenting yourself in whatever manner your industry demands is what will be needed to grow in your career of choice. Notice I used the word choice we all have a choice.
I will always remember heading a panel interview with several applicants, all vying for the same position. There was this one person, who was the most quiet of the bunch. He listened, answered questions. He did not particularly stand out from the crowd, until the very end. I asked the group if they had a portfolio or equivalent. He was the only person who did, it was organized and expressed more than in spoken words what he had to offer. He was offered the position.
Do you have a portfolio?
When you apply for a job, you send your resume. But what else are you doing to separate yourself from the masses of resumes that a company is receiving?
Have you ever thought about starting a blog or writing and self-publishing a book dedicated to your expertise?
Rather you are an assistant or a consultant, having a basis for what you do and how well you do it is a must. When you consider yourself to be your own business card, you will automatically treat yourself like you are the CEO of ME, INC. You will become an enterprise and increase your marketable value tenfold.
Obviously, writing and publishing your own book is more time consuming than creating a blog, so start by creating a blog.
Here are some tips to create a blog style portfolio:
- Stay on topic! If you are a marketing rep, make sure to discuss your qualities that are associated marketing, your expertise, educational background and experience. Your aspirations, your hopes and dreams. Be clear and concise, not abstract in your wishes. If your dream is to start your own marketing company only include this information if you are consulting as an independent contractor.
- Be careful not to burn bridges! Bad mouthing anyone or anything is a no-no. Rather it’s the industry, the last company you worked for, the clientele, the economy, whatever it may be. Think twice. For one, never mention any names on your blog. Always, include a statement that your potential employer can request references. You may have signed a non-disclosure or something similar preventing you from discussing your client base rather positively or definitely in a negative nature. Don’t use names! If you successfully worked for a local politician or a Fortune 500 company, state it in an inconspicuous manner.
- Include your charitable side! If you volunteer, say so! Most organizations love hiring applicants that are involved in their community in a positive manner. Large organizations encourage participation. Just be careful not to disclose your religious beliefs or political views in such a way that it ostracises you or your professionalism.
- Brag, truthfully! If you brought your last company millions of dollars in sales, or you prevented a loss, or retained a customer or won an award. Say so! These are hard facts, include details (excluding names!), how you accomplished what you did, be honest and truthful, if you are not telling the exact truth it will come back to hunt you. You may be hired based on falsification of information and miss out on learning what you said you already knew, you will be humiliated in the end and your reputation as ME, INC. will be tainted. The more examples the better! I suggest you include everything that got you to where you are today, if it started in high school, go back there. Just remember this one tip: The further in the past, the less details, the more recent, the more details you shall include.
- Include a picture, if you want! Although pictures are very personal, a nice professional head-shot is a great way for an organization to recognize you and remember you. It can be, a discriminatory factor unfortunately as well. But the key is, if you have other social networking sites or any Internet pictures that can be Googled, than you should include a head-shot, give them the picture you want them to see, or they may go looking for you out in cyberspace.
- Add some hobbies and interests! This is a fun way to express yourself. Be sincere, if you love golfing, add some information about your love of the sport. If you are a writer, elaborate. You never know when your own personal hobbies and passions may open a door for a more fulfilling career opportunity or position.
- Include contact information! A simple email is enough! Add your location or the location for which you are hoping to work. If you will relocate include that information, but be careful to suggest relocation and expect an expense paid move. Only include what you, yourself are willing to invest into your career. Remember you are the CEO of ME, INC.
- Remember to include your blog address on your resume, under your name in bold letters!
What not to include! A quick reminder!
- Personal addresses!
- Any information that you wish to keep private!
- Past employers or clients names!
- Negative comments!
- Contradictory information!
- False information!
- Salary requirements unless you are an consultant or vendor with rates.
- Confidential information of any kind!
- Anything that you think twice about including, better safe than sorry.
Don’t worry if your blog is a quick read. If you have included what makes you become a person rather than another resume, than you most likely set yourself apart from the crowd. Remember, that your industry can be expressed through your blog, from artsy, to conservative. You can create more than one blog if needed. Fo example, if you are a freelance writer, your blog would look very different from your regular profession as an investment banker.
If a blog is not your style, you can use Linkedin www.linkedin.com an online resume that manages your professional identity! A great source of networking. Or you can create a nicely written and organized portfolio, I actually recommend that everyone has a portfolio in general, with letters of reference, awards, training certificates, transcripts, etc. This portfolio should always be duplicated and given to the potential employer or client to keep and listed on your resume or letter of intent.
Lastly, for those who have volumes of expertise and a special niche, can write a book, self-publish it and present it to local newspapers and magazines, send a copy to the CEO or potential clients. This may seem out of the ordinary or even a bit crazy, but think about it, if you are an interior designer, you have a specialty that could be expressed through a process or steps that you may be willing to share with others, maybe not your secret sauce but an expert manual of sorts. Check out what’s already on the market if you’re interested in taking your professional career to this level. Sun Tzu, the high ranking military general and author of The Art of War an ancient Chinese military treatise, wrote this book and presented it as a resume of sorts so that he could become a general.
In closing, it is important to remember that you are your business card - period, you are the CEO of YOU, INC. You must take your professional career seriously if you have serious goals and aspirations. You cannot expect someone else to represent you. Stand out from the crowd in a positive way, be the change you wish to see, my tribute to Gandhi. But it is true. Take a chance on yourself! You are your best bet.
Do you have any stories or ideas that are in line with this article post? I am eager to learn what you think!
The Pink Briefcase
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