5 Ways to Invest in Your Brand or Career in 2017
New Year’s resolutions are positive ways of reinforcing goals we aspire to. Even if we fall short – its still is a positive step in the right direction. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, aspiring author, student or working professional – personal branding is a sure way of leveraging your experience, credentials, and personal accomplishments to boost your visibility.
Career growth doesn’t have to mean getting a promotion at your job. Investing in yourself can lead to greater lifestyle freedom – including financial independence, more money or just a higher degree of fulfillment in your professional life. Here are five strategies for investing in yourself in 2017.
1. Position Yourself as an Expert
Positioning yourself as an expert in your field has countless benefits. Experts are seen as “specialists” in an area gained by years of experience and training that provides added value over and above a generalist. There are two steps needed to position yourself as a specialist in your field. First, decide what it is you want to specialize in and what you believe you can sell. Second, immerse yourself in that specialty. Look for online platforms where you apply to – as a featured expert or even as a brand ambassador.
2. Develop a Personal Website
Aspiring Authors are turned down routinely from publishers when they don’t have a platform! A platform includes having a “home” where your fans, followers and audience can find information about you – including your achievements and any work that you’ve produced. In a digital age – this advice expands beyond just aspiring authors – it also extends to us all. Having a well-written, attractive and easy-to-navigate website can help position you as a professional among amateurs. Additionally, a professional website enables you to stand out, extend your reach and control your online image to a certain degree. Integrating the website with social media and call-to-actions are critical to engaging with an audience.
3. Volunteer Your Time
According to Statistics Canada, in 2010, about one-half of Canadians contributed their time, energy and skills to groups and organizations such as charities and non-profits. They provided leadership on boards and committees; canvassed for funds; provided advice, counselling or mentoring; visited seniors; prepared and delivered food; served as volunteer drivers; advocated for social causes; coached children and youth. In short, they shaped their communities and enabled non-profit organizations to deliver programs and services to millions of their fellow Canadians.
This volunteer work is important not only to individual volunteers but to Canadian society as a whole. For example, according to the 2011 United Nations State of the World’s Volunteerism Report, “…volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.”
Donating your time, energy, talent and skills isn’t just good for the community; it also boosts self-worth. Additionally, volunteering can help your career and personal brand. It also looks great on your resume because it shows you are community minded and dedicated to using your abilities as a force for good. A great way to start is to find out what business organizations in your area have opportunities where your skills can come into play or to find volunteer organizations that are relevant to your career. Become a mentor on Aspire-Canada or for another organization. This also helps build your platform and spread the word about your expert skills and coaching abilities.
4. Find a Mentor
Some of the most noteworthy people in history credit their success to the relationships they built with their mentors. One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life lessons is to “stand on the backs of giants – he also emphasizes the need to find mentors.
When choosing a mentor, focus on the person, not the profession or position. It’s also wise to look outside of your job or industry to find a person with a fresh perspective. Online mentorship platforms like Aspire-Canada provide a powerful tool to access several mentors in various fields.
5. Commit to Lifelong Learning
If you want to climb the career ladder in 2017 or even launch a business, consider the value of lifelong learning.
You can find affordable courses at your local community college. However, these days, you don’t have to leave the house to improve your knowledge base. With the advent of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), many sites now offer free or cheap courses, workshops and other programs that can help you grow as a person while growing your resume or brand. For information on MOOCs in Canada – this list has several universities in Canada that offer online courses.
In the United States, edX, for example, offers free courses from some of the world’s most highly regarded learning institutions, including Harvard, Berkeley and MIT. Similarly, Johns Hopkins offers education to the public through its courseware site, as does Carnegie Mellon. Stanford University provides open classes on iTunes, and Coursera and Skillshare both offer specialized courses. Scholarships are also available for new and returning students, for courses with tuition costs.
Investing in yourself in 2017 is a surefire way to boost your brand or career.