When I made the career change to add professional speaker to marketing communications consultant, I knew I’d have to evolve my personal brand and expand my network. As I started the process I was a little taken aback at how many small changes I needed to make to both. Regarding my brand, I learned some things about the way that I was perceived that surprised, gratified and humbled me. I learned what characteristics to play up, and which to play down. I got great advice on how to grow my energy, elevate my appearance and leverage my natural strengths.
I think that one of the keys to my success is that I have always been true to my authentic brand. Whether I am speaking to a conference of 800 attendees, leading a workshop for 25, or meeting with a client one-on-one, I am still just me. I usually tweak the specifics, but because I am authentic I am comfortable, and because I am comfortable so is everyone else. It is important that people have the same type of experience with me, regardless of where I spoke to them, or what topic I covered.
As for my network, I soon realized that the people who knew me well as a marketing professional were not necessarily decision makers for hiring professional speakers. I had to learn who those people are, and how I could access them. I joined new organizations, attended new events and met new people who traveled in different circles than I was used to. It took a while for these new relationships to develop, of course, but with patience and perseverance they have paid off.
I also made sure that my existing network knew what I was offering as a speaker and the type of opportunities I was looking for, and many of my engagements come from recommendations and introductions from my these friends and colleagues.
When is the last time you thought about your brand and your network, and whether they are relevant and impactful to your career today and your goals for tomorrow? It might be time to do so!