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Repositioning Your Personal Brand in This Economy

Repositioning Your Personal Brand in This Economy

Safe Piggy Bank

      The economy isn’t getting better anytime soon and tons of people are losing their jobs every second.  The number of unemployed persons increased by 851,000 to 12.5 million in February, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent.

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      When you get laid off, you have far more choices than you could possibly imagine.  The problem that most people have is that they freak out and quickly apply to as many jobs as possible, while spamming their network, praying to (insert person you worship here) and becoming extremely stressed out in the process.  I know things are tough right now, but it also means that there are enormous opportunities for you to either start over, rethink your career jobs and create the future you want! 

      That is why today I’m going to take you through a process you can use to reposition your brand in this economy, so that you can surface as a champion when we get out of it.  The first thing you want to do is to take a deep breath and stay as optimistic and open minded as you possibly can.  If you can’t do that, then it’s hard for any advice to work for you.

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      What are your options

        If you are one of the millions of people that are laid off, then you really need to understand what options you have before you start applying for jobs or launch a new company.  A good way to do this is to start conversations with the people that surround your life and those who have already lost their job and are in the same position as you.  If you’re an introvert, then doing this online is a wise idea.  You should join groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and Ning to locate people that are just like you and find out what they are doing right now.  This way, you won’t make job searching mistakes and you’ll have other people to support you during this tough time.

        Here are some options:

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        • Start a company: If you have a bright idea or a friend with a business plan, then just go for it because you have nothing to lose right now.  You can always have a few side jobs to have some cash flow to support you, while you build your company.  It will be hard to get venture capital money, unless you already have a personal brand with a history of success, but you can start something small right now and grow it when the economy turns around.  There is always money out there for great ideas!
        • Search for a new job: You can reposition yourself in a completely new field.  It helps to have transferrable skills though and a lot of passion.  Finding a new job is tricky if you haven’t built up a strong network of professionals.  Use all the social networks out there in your industry to either connect or reconnet with people that can help you.  Put less emphasis on applying for jobs through job boards and corporate websites and more on meeting hiring managers directly through social media websites.
        • Consult companies/individuals: Depending on your skill set and background, you’ll be able to get some clients during this recession or none at all.  Those who have get track records of results in a specific niche will have no problem finding clients.  Of course, if you don’t have much experience, this path won’t work well for you.
        • Go back to college: A lot of students right now are staying in college because they fear the current job market.  Also, people who are getting laid off are pursuing advanced degrees to stall out the recession.  Unless you have goals behind going to graduate school, don’t waste the money.  Spend 15 hours a day searching for a job instead.

        The bottom line is that you need to do something because employers frown upon slackers and every new person you meet will ask you “what do you do” and you better have a good answer.  If you do nothing, you’ll appear to be uninteresting and you’ll be ostracized as a result.

        A repositioning process

        1. Conduct an assessment of your current situation, including how much money you need to make each money to get by, what your family needs are and where you want to take your career in the future.
        2. Decide if you want to continue to pursue your current career or if you want to reposition your brand into a new market segment.
        3. Construct a new personal brand statement that tells the world what you do and who you do it for, while updating all of your marketing collateral to reflect this change, such as having a new “objective” in your resume.
        4. Research all the websites on the planet that have potential customers or hiring managers at companies you want to work for.
        5. Start creating content (blog/podcast, etc) on what you know and are passionate about.
        6. Research out to potential customers and hiring managers about your services/wanting to work there and direct them to your blog and other content that you’ve created.

        Some guidance from career experts

          “If you’re job hunting, or just trying to hold onto a job in this economy, your personal brand must demonstrate that you are hard-working, self-sufficient, loyal, positive, and most importantly, that you get results.  Everything from your website to the way you answer questions must communicate these characteristics.  Managers who have hundreds of resumes for every opening at their fingertips won’t waste time employing (or even interviewing) people who need too much hand-holding or think they are entitled to meaningful work.”

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          “To job hunt in a bad economy you need to be a specialist. In a good economy, people hire generalists. In a bad economy, hiring managers can be very picky and they look for a perfect fit. Specialists fit perfectly, not generalists. So talk about yourself as if you are specialized, and then people will think of you when a job that fits comes up. Also, retool your resume to look specialized. You don’t need to have everything you’ve ever done on your resume: It’s a marketing document, not your life story.”

          Right now a lot of people are scared and they are hoarding what (and who) they know. I recommend the opposite: When you give generously of your knowledge – career ideas, recommendations of resources, networking tips, etc. – you strengthen your image as a “go-to” person, someone others can rely on even in tough times. Share your knowledge by speaking on pro bono panels, commenting on blogs, sharing article links on Facebook or Twitter, answering questions on LinkedIn Answers, etc. The more you share your knowledge, the more knowledge (including networking contacts and job leads!) you’ll receive from others in return.

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          Dan Schawbel

          Dan Schawbel is the leading personal branding expert for young professionals.

          Personal Branding Basics You Need to Know for Career Success 3 Areas You Must Invest in During an Economic Recession Your Personal Brand is Equal to Your Google Results Command and Control Your Google Results 5 Things to Do Before You Build Your Personal Brand

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          Last Updated on January 15, 2021

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

          Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

          Posture

          First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

          • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
          • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
          • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
          • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

          All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

          Facial Expressions

          Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

          • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
          • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
          • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

          If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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          1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

          A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

          The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

          This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

          2. Relax Your Face

          New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

          The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

          To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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          3. Improve Your Eye Contact

          Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

          The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

          To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

          3. Smile More

          There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

          Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

          4. Hand Gestures

          Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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          It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

          5. Enhance Your Handshake

          In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

          “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

          It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

          6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

          As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

          Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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          Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

          Final Takeaways

          Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

          If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

          More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

          Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

          Reference

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