By Jeff Beals
The first day of fall technically doesn’t start until September 23rd, but unofficially, the season is underway. I hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend. Perhaps you took a mini vacation? A weekend at the beach or lake? Barbeque?
As for my family, we packed our kids into the minivan and drove north to a family reunion in Minnesota. It was an enjoyable weekend, and not just because of the quality time spent with family – Labor Day marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year.
There are many reasons I love the fall. I’m a big football fan. I like the fall holidays and the whole idea of a “harvest celebration.” I like being outside now that summer’s oppressive heat is yielding to fall’s cool nights where I live in the Midwest.
There’s another reason to love fall. It’s a time of renewal. That may seem like an odd statement, because typically people think of “renewal” being associated with other times of the year such as January 1st when we make our New Year’s resolutions or spring when the flowers are in full bloom.
But fall is nonetheless an important renewal time especially professional renewal. Children go back to school literally and professionals go back to school figuratively. It’s weird; no matter how many years go by since I finished college, I still tend to see my life as taking place in “semesters.” Fall is first semester. Then there’s the holiday season followed by the arduous slog known as the second semester. Then there’s summer break. Most of us professionals can’t take the whole summer off, but admittedly work slows down a bit.
So, we’re now at the beginning of the “first semester” in our professional calendar. Not only do we want to work hard, we want to work smart. And one of the smartest things you can do this semester is to strengthen your personal brand. Without any further adieu, here are some critical personal branding to-do’s for this fall:
Network your tail off – During the summer, many organizations suspend their regular meetings, because so many people take vacations or are involved in family activities. Now that fall is here, great networking events are back on the docket. In many cities, major philanthropy events are held in the fall. Don’t miss the opportunity to see and be seen as often as possible. Remember that networking is just like any other type of marketing in that frequency and repetition matter. You need to talk to many people and you need to be in front of people over and over.
Focus on relationships – Your success, at least in part, depends on your relationships with other people, but in this perpetually stubborn economy, they are even more important. I believe people are inherently more interested in meeting new people and going deeper with existing acquaintances in the fall. Keep in mind the order of developing healthy business relationships: First you establish rapport, and then you foster a relationship. Eventually, you can develop trust. When that happens, all things in business are possible.
Find the Fascinating – Determine what is most interesting about your career and your line of work and then exploit it. I call it your “area of self marketing expertise.” That’s what you talk about when you meet new people, not the mundane, technical details that will cause a lay person’s eyes to glaze over in boredom.
Get serious about social media – There are still too many professionals who have grossly inadequate brands online. Social media to people are what the Yellow Pages were to businesses 20 years ago – THE place where prospective clients and prospective employers find out about you. Don’t just have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Make sure you post material that is interesting and not just inane personal stuff. Use social media to strengthen your reputation by building on your area of self-marketing expertise.
Broaden Your Reach – Everyone should have a personal target audience, a group of people who must hear your personal brand message because those people happen to be critical to your success. This fall, assess what types of people are in your personal target audience and determine if you need to add additional categories to reach your ultimate goals.
Enjoy this fall, and remember that the work you do now should make life easier and richer next year.
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.
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