“ANZ Bank has brought about the biggest white-collar job loss revolution in Australia’s history. They will be followed by big professional firms and miners. All previous mass reductions of white-collar staff have been related to the economy. But this one is related to technology, so it’s permanent.”
So wrote Robert Gottliebsen in late 2019. According to the respected columnist for the Australian, the long-anticipated clean out of costly, unproductive and technologically redundant middle managers was here.
What has changed?
Fast forward to today. We are in the early months of emerging from the global pandemic that has – and will continue to – redefine everything for at least a decade. The bank fallout is likely to be small change compared to what’s to come as subsidies and furloughs are wound down and businesses cut their cloth to meet new economic realities.
What do we know?
Right now, not much for certain. But we can safely assume that the employment world has changed enormously. Job security is gone forever. As a professional you will now have to consistently demonstrate how you are adding economic value to the enterprise you serve – as an employee, contractor or consultant.
You are also likely to be on the lookout for the next job/contract/project more often. That means you need to be selling ‘YOU’ all the time – not just every few years at an old-school interview (now more likely to be with an algorithm!)
Are you at risk?
If you think (or know) you are in the firing line, it’s time to take action. Even if you do not, what chance that could change quick-smart? A giant game of musical chairs is taking place. You don’t want to be one of the thousands left standing when the music stops.
What should you do?
Below I lay out again some ideas to upgrade the way you are showing up with a powerful Professional Brand. I believe this is imperative if you are to succeed in a Post-Corona world that will expect so much more from us.
You need a Professional Brand
This can all sound a bit gloomy, but it needn’t. Look through the current fear and pain and the future of work is still AMAZING. But to take advantage of its possibilities, you need to upgrade your skills and present them in a way that others can access.
You need to build your influence. That means developing a value bank around your Professional Brand. This must exist outside of any employer relationship and be portable. When you want to (or need to) move on, it’s ready to help create options for whatever your NEXT looks like.
Based on my work coaching hundreds of professionals, there are 5 key elements to develop. I capture them here in my model. I call this Your INFLUENCER 5 PACK.
Professional & Personal Brand
This is about building a brand that showcases who you are and what you do. As our public and private lives are crushed together, it pays to capture all aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean you have to share your inner-most secrets, more that you present a rounded view. It’s about capturing your authentic self.
In our post-truth, low-trust world, we are looking for interesting people with drive, smarts and passion. Personally, in addition to promoting my professional work and credentials, I also discuss my family, my sporting interests in surfboat rowing and rugby and my volunteer work in the mental health space.
Network & Tribe
Building your influence only works if you have the right people in your world. When I start to work with mentoring clients, I run an exercise called the Wealth/Poverty network. This identifies multiple types of people we need in our sphere of influence. The Wealth side includes people who will promote us, who can advise us, who have access to finances, who inspire us, who can help carry the load ………
Most people only have a traditional ‘work-based’ network. That’s not enough. It’s rarely portable in the event you want or need to change industries or to pivot to become an entrepreneur or consultant. It can be a chastening experience to discover how fragile your network really is in the event you are no longer an influential manager (and therefore customer) in a big company. What you thought were solid connections evaporate overnight.
The game then is to identify the right people, fill in the gaps where you don’t know anyone and to proactively and consistently connect with those who are able and willing to help. Once you get the balance right it’s very rewarding and easy. You’ll find your tribe of like-minded folk who you can grow with, support, sell to and enjoy.
Thinking and Opinion
This is about getting your thinking out of your head and into the world. It’s a great way of showcasing what you know. Better still, the creative process itself usually leads to more and better ideas. It starts with giving yourself permission to put your stuff out there – typically in the form of a blog. LinkedIn is the perfect place to start with either a written piece or video.
You also need to express a point of view. If you’ve spent a long time in a corporate role, this can be hard. When I left my last leadership role, it took me a long time to be able to state, plainly, what I thought. I had to unlearn the corporate bullshit language. So have a swing. Add to the debate. It’s a great way to demonstrate your character, intelligence and ability to both define and solve a problem.
Build a Body of Work
You’ve probably been a hiring manager at some stage. That means looking at applications, CVs and, of course, LinkedIn profiles. Now imagine YOU are suddenly thrust on the job market. If I looked at your profile, what would I see? What would make you stand out?
Building your Professional Brand and demonstrating your thinking by creating a body of work is both impressive and rare! Imagine your LinkedIn profile contains 10, 20, 30 thought pieces. These combine to take me on a journey showcasing your expertise, experience and thinking. How much more likely are you to make the cut compared to the other 90% of people who have nothing beyond the standard name, rank and number fare?
Tone of Voice
Authenticity is over-used – but we are all in search of it. Many people and organisations disappoint us. We are over being sold to, fed up of corporate spin. This is why it’s important to develop your tone of voice in the content you create. It takes time, but once you have it, you are able to be yourself in the way you create and connect. Chances are if people like your online style, they will like you.
I have been playing this game for 10 years and now have a completely natural voice. What you see is what you get – and that’s very liberating. So don’t be afraid to express those individual thoughts, quirks, humorous quips, obsessions…… whatever…… that make you YOU.
Taking the decision to build your Professional Brand and influence is an investment in your future. It creates options and exposes you to learning and growth. That’s got to be a good thing.
Resources that can help
Building Your Professional Brand online program.
Launching in May, this is my 6-hour online programme that captures everything I have learned in 10 years of helping smart professionals to build their Professional Brand. You can get a sneak preview here.
Whether you work for yourself or an organisation, it’s up to you to create a professional brand that lets people know who you are, how you help and why you are different.
My Personal Brand Diagnostic assess where your brand currently sits and provides you with a Personal Brand Report to help you progress.
Join my LinkedIn Accelerator Club.
We’ve created a sharing platform and a supportive community to help YOU to get over the content hump for just $29/month with 14-day free trial.
Set up a call
You can also set up a call with me to discuss how I can help as a mentor – simple drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org