Personal Branding and the Hollywood Gig Model

Casting for the Hollywood gig model

Are you ready to be cast in the workplace as you would be cast in a Hollywood movie? A huge workforce trend is the movement toward a gig economy, one that resembles how the movie industry works. Think about how a film is made:

 1.  Someone wants to make the movie and finds the money to fund it.

 2.  The key players are secured: the director, producer, and lead actors.

 3.  Everyone else is hired, each person bringing special skills to the set.

 4.  The whole crew works on the movie for as long as it takes to complete the project.

  5.  All the people hired for the movie say their goodbyes and move on to look for their next gig.

Many workplaces now function this way, and many more workplaces will do so in the future. As a result, workers need to be agile and able to clearly communicate what they can do and who they are.

Having a strong personal brand will serve you well in the gig economy. Instead of hoping that someone notices you and offers you steady, long-term employment, you must be prepared to take your personal brand on the road and leverage your skills. Chances are, you may not be an employee in the future; you may be a free agent.

The workplace has become project-oriented. More and more work is being organized into smaller segments that are facilitated by project teams. Projects are a great way to grow your brand because they have a beginning and an end, have specific deliverables, and often have measurable results.

Start thinking now about how you can take on more project work, and you’ll be taking a crucial step toward becoming more employable. Toward this end, stop thinking like an employee and start thinking of yourself as a company of one offering your clients the best service that you can provide.

Consider an example of how a project gig might work: You join a project team and work on a project for two years. That project ends, and you take what you have learned and join former coworkers at a start-up business. You work really hard to build the company, and it’s sold to a larger company. You leave and go to work for a competitor where you settle in for three or four years. That company merges with another business, and you leave to set up your own consulting firm. This type of transition goes on until you work fewer and fewer hours — not necessarily retiring, but at least modifying your work to fit your older lifestyle.

Managing Personal Change

Having colleagues and friends for support makes managing change so much easier. Last March I received a call from Wiley Publishing asking me if I would be interested in writing Personal Branding for Dummies. I consider myself an expert in the field but had only written articles, never a book. While working with clients in my role as a Career and Personal Branding Strategist Coach, I had mastered guiding people through the process of change. Now it was my turn to go through a huge change – becoming an author. Writing a book was a completely different experience and put me in much the same position as my clients – having to adapt to a new role and a new way of working.

One of the first things I did during this time of change was to pause and think about what knowledge and techniques I used to guide my clients through career and identity changes. I then began to write my ideas in the “Dummies” style, with easy to understand language in a how-to book that smart people could use to develop their own personal brands. I wanted to be true to my own brand of creating community and putting people at ease as they read the book, so I gathered some of my favorite personal branding experts and asked them to contribute their specialized expertise. The book takes the reader through a step by step personal branding process. It is filled with exercises and practical examples of how others have been successful in uniquely building their personal brands.

I’m very proud of Personal Branding for Dummies as it hits the shelves at the first of June. It is an easy to use, practical guide that can support just about everyone in his or her career.

Identifying the sweet spot in which you want to compete

There is an intersection where what you have to offer, whom you want to work with, the markets that you serve, and the ideas that you have to share all come together. That point is called your market niche or your sweet spot, and it is uniquely yours. When you have found your sweet spot, you have found the niche that you want to use in developing your personal brand.

I have a friend who is a corporate trainer. He found his sweet spot in working with emerging leaders in an internationally diverse company. He claims his sweet spot is training these leaders in leadership development and helping them grow to be better managers. He likes to work with mid-level professionals who are eager to improve in their careers in a global environment.

Finding your sweet spot allows you to stay true to yourself, and it should give you direction to form a strategy for developing your niche. This concept applies whether you’re an entrepreneur or working in a company. (Your sweet spot in the workplace becomes something that you are uniquely known for.)

Shedding others’ ideas and expectations

Becoming an authentic human being means that you accept yourself for who you are. Everyone has different approaches to life, likes and dislikes, and skills and talents.

Most likely, when you were in junior high, standing out was deadly. At that age, nothing is more important than fitting in. But fitting in can carry you only so far. At some point, if you truly want to succeed and shine, you have to figure out how to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

I’m not saying that you need to stop caring about what other people think or to stop listening to what your loved ones think is good for you. Instead, in this book I ask you to make an honest assessment of what you want and who you are. You can’t build a personal brand based on someone else’s ideals. If you did, you’d be a fake.

Taking an honest assessment about who you are and what you want means looking at what you do well and owning it, as well as knowing what you don’t do well and recognizing those limitations. You definitely should seek input from others during this process. However, you can’t let them determine who you will be. Personal branding is about you being you in the most authentic way.


Aligning Your Brand with the Company’s Brand

When you know your personal brand, you can figure out how to use it within the corporate culture where you work. It becomes an authentic exchange of assets. Developing a personal brand is more than insurance in a volatile workforce; it establishes a clarity of career goals that allows you to chart your career course by taking assignments to help you grow and develop. In most cases, that action serves your company well.

Most companies have a corporate brand or a set of company guidelines that all employees agree to buy into. Often, the company brand is part of its allure to workers. For example, workers at Google buy into the idea that Google is a company on the cutting edge of innovation and has a reputation for being a cool place to work. Someone chooses to work at Google because he believes he’s the kind of person who fits that corporate brand. [Read more…]

Engaging in Lifelong Learning

Proponents of higher education argue that you need to be an educated person to make it in the world. Proponents of vocational education say that you need to develop a specific skill to be useful. These days, most employers realize that both arguments are true — and neither type of education is enough on its own.

In decades past, having a college degree ensured your employability. But as recent college graduates are well aware, that degree doesn’t ensure employment any more — especially if the student hasn’t developed a special employable skill set. In fact, many college graduates are now enrolling in vocational programs, such as bookkeeping, veterinary technician, or cosmotology, to learn specific skills.

[Read more…]

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