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Repositioning Your Personal Brand in This Economy

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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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          More by this author

          Dan Schawbel

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

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          Last Updated on July 20, 2021

          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

          You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

          Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

          Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

          Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

          1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

          According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

          “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

          Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

          Warming up

          If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

          If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

          Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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          1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
          2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
          3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

          Stay hydrated

          Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

          To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

          Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

          Meditate

          Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

          Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

          Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

          Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

          2. Focus on your goal

          One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

          Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

          Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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          Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

          If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

          3. Convert negativity to positivity

          There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

          ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

          It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

          Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

          Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

          Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

          4. Understand your content

          Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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          However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

          “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

          Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

          Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

          One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

          5. Practice makes perfect

          Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

          In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

          Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

          6. Be authentic

          There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

          Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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          Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

          To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

          With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

          Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

          7. Post speech evaluation

          Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

          Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

          We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

          You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

          Improve your next speech

          As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

          Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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          • How did I do?
          • Are there any areas for improvement?
          • Did I sound or look stressed?
          • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
          • Was I saying “um” too often?
          • How was the flow of the speech?

          Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

          If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

          Reference

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