You are Jane Smith; therefore, you shall always be Jane Smith. Everyone knows you as a finance professional, so no new marketing career for you. Of course these sentiments are far from being true. As the saying from Heraclitus goes, “the only constant is change.” So what does that mean for your personal brand? Are you stuck with it like a scar “branded” on your skin, or is there room to reinvent yourself? After all, passionate intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs are always thinking about their next move. But sometimes wondering how others will accept the change, or how to execute it, causes uncertainty. Here are three ways to approach transitioning your personal brand as you evolve.
1. Determine the necessary steps. As with most things that need solutions, your first step should be to evaluate the change. If you’re an administrative professional that wants to move into a more senior role, think about the steps you need to take towards that direction. You may want to start by working with a personal brand strategist to evaluate your resume and LinkedIn profile to make sure there’s a good representation of your leadership skills. If you’re unclear about your brand attributes, take advantage of tools that will help uncover your strengths like the 360°Reach survey. Start taking on more projects and dress the part, so that your professional image matches your desire to move up. Don’t get discouraged if you’re missing some of the requirements for a certain position. Work towards the degree, supplemental courses, or volunteer experience that will help fill in the gaps. Also, you can look for a mentor or ask to shadow a high-performing manager. Think about what obstacles you may encounter with your change and find solutions that will address them.
2. Transition slowly. Change doesn’t happen overnight so neither should your actions. For example, having a new name due to marriage doesn’t mean you should change all your social media profiles and email signatures immediately—as exciting as it may seem. Since your personal brand is associated with your current name, gradually transition to your new name and allow your network to adjust to your rebranding. Instead of doing an immediate public name change, slowly integrate your new name (either by using both last names or placing your maiden name in parentheses). That way there will still be a connection to your brand already established.
3. Trust the process. Following your passion or moving on to a new chapter in life can be both scary and exciting. If changing from being an analyst to a botanist sounds crazy to everyone, (but you and a trusted few), still go with it. Keep a consistent message and remember each new direction is a part of your “brand-story.” Even if your change is due to being laid off or just having very few options, some of life’s greatest rewards come when you step out your comfort zone. Be strategic about what needs to be done to reinforce the change and stay the course. Trust your ability to grow without having to start all over again. Your love for what you do will speak for itself and your brand.
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