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Thanks to a tweet from Richard Dedor, Chris Reaburn and I were last minute attendees at a Kansas City PRSA lunch session by Dan Schawbel based on his book Me 2.0 – Build a Personal Brand to Achieve Career Success.

The talk was part of a career day for students interested in PR, so the average audience age was 20. As a result, the slant of the personal branding ideas Dan Schawbel shared was customized for the industry and audience life stage.

The personal branding ideas he covered were nonetheless applicable to anyone working on heightening their own identities. From talking with many people mid-career professionals in transition, however, they tend to be woefully behind on how personal branding applies to their own career situations.

3 Personal Branding Ideas for Mid-Career Professionals

So for the 25 times 2.0 crowd, here are three personal branding ideas customized for you:

1. Volunteering for meaningful assignments with professional associations is a great mid-career internship.

Dan Schawbel highlights the necessity of internships for college-age job seekers. Mid-career professionals seeking new jobs have similar opportunities. I speak with many people whose current job is “looking for a job.” There’s no sizzle and not much built-in skill development there. Yet associations relevant to you are likely looking for knowledgeable mid-career professionals to take on assignments.

One great thing about a smartly-chosen volunteer project is you typically have room to make it much cooler than anyone in the association ever expected. The result is you get to experiment, learn, and have something with sizzle to lead with when networking.

2. Mid-career, it’s imperative to assess your personality and get on with changing what’s not working.

My advice to people who leave for other companies is always to think about who they want to be in a new job, because it’s the only opportunity to create a “new” you. Dan makes the point it’s tremendously challenging to reinvent yourself in the age of (nearly) total visibility to your online presence.

That’s true, but if you continually trip yourself up through the same behaviors, do the self-help, career coaching, or counseling necessary to eliminate rough spots. Become if not a new, at least a “new formula” you.

3. Mid-career professionals need a solid, actively growing offline and online network.

Dan Schawbel is right when he says a larger network has the potential to work much harder for you. As a mid-career professional, you should be good at determining the highest value people in your network.

While you definitely want to serve and cultivate these relationships very actively, you should also be continually reaching out to expand your network offline and online. Focus on adding people you may be able to help while building the most vibrant, responsive network you can. That’s a far better move than creating the largest network possible filled with people having few real ties to you.

What personal branding ideas do you have to share?

Personal branding is of increasing interest, so look for more personal branding ideas in the future. Let me know how we can deliver value to you as part of the Brainzooming family! – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

Want to meet cool new people? Next time you’re at a public presentation, “live tweet” it. Live tweeting implies using Twitter to report:

  • What the speaker is communicating
  • Your own commentary
  • What others are tweeting about it (through retweets)

I live tweeted the Integrated Marketing Summit last week in Kansas City to further experiment with the process. Based on my tweets from a direct database marketing session, Doug Haslam switched breakouts and joined the session. This created the opportunity to chat, and after attending his session on PR and social media, later talk at the networking reception.

I wouldn’t have necessarily gone up and talked with someone new (ah, the curse of an introvert), but live tweeting opened the door to connect and meet a new, really smart person at the forefront of social media.

Beyond the in-person opportunity, live tweeting often opens the opportunity to attract and follow new people in your Twitter network as well.

Live tweeting – a whole new way for introverts to become social animals. – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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A very nice Brainzooming reader stopped me at the Integrated Marketing Summit to say she reads Brainzooming every day, “when it’s short.”

Great communications strategy reminder to me and to you.

When writing, it’s a great strategy to set a deliberately low limit on the total number of words you’ll ultimately allow yourself. Challenge every word. While you’re at it, eliminate “that” from your writing. The blog’s rough drafts have taught me “that” is my most frequently used unnecessary word. Based on other material I read, it’s likely one of yours too.

A reader once told me I get one minute of his time each day, which is a “big deal.” His statement is on my mind every time I write a Brainzooming post. I appreciate and respect the time you spend with Brainzooming and want to make sure it’s of strategic value in helping catalyze your success. So I’ll try and keep it short. - Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Brainzenning – A video moment of calm and reflection.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Today’s guest blogger, Meghan Biro, Founder of TalentCulture, calls me the most patient person on Twitter. One day earlier in 2009 when back home with my parents, I saw Meghan tweeting with someone in my network, checked out her intriguing profile, and had a short Twitter conversation with her. Not sure if it was then or later, but I asked (maybe begged) her to do a guest post for Brainzooming.
 
She said she would, and I began my patient waiting. I’d reach out about once a month to see if she was still considering it, and each time she said she was. That was good enough for me!
 
In the meantime, we’ve talked by phone, paving the way for another great business relationship initiated on Twitter. So without further delay, here’s Meghan’s take on creativity + innovation in business (it’s well worth the wait!):

We are a generation raised to believe we are creative. Some of us actually are lucky enough to be employed as creatives; the rest of us, who received colored markers and sketchbooks in kindergarten, must look for ways to draw out the sparks of creativity we secretly nurture while working as accountants, engineers, administrators or in other career paths not known for rewarding creativity.

The dirty little secret many people live with is that creativity is not usually rewarded in the workaday world. So how can we nurture creativity in our work? What are the warning signs that someone we work with is trying to sabotage our creativity, and what can we do to counter resistance?

First, let’s look at some quick creativity-boosters.

  • Take time for someone else. The conventional wisdom is to take time for yourself, but turn that around, reach out of yourself and set aside 15 minutes a day to think about someone else, and how they are creative. Contemplate the different point of view this person presents; talk to them and ask questions about what they like, not what they do.
  • Try something really new. Listen to music you think you don’t like. Commit to buying a CD or checking out live music– don’t just download a song – and listen to the whole thing. Sample new sounds and accept the challenge of something you wouldn’t normally choose.
  • Ask a question. Then commit to listening to the answer and allowing what the other person says to influence your thoughts. Too often we have the answer we want to hear formulated before we ask a question.
  • Learn something new every day. Commit to learning – and using – a new word every day. Or read history instead of a novel. Teach yourself to dance. Try something new and expand your perceptions, physical coordination and mental agility.

All of these things can be done easily, and all can make you a more creative person.

But what if you work with someone who seems to suck the creativity out of every situation? You know the signs: this person interrupts others or pushes away from a conference table with crossed arms when they hear something they don’t agree with. This person can kill creativity by walking into a room – if you let it happen.

Here are a few ways to work with that person creatively and collaboratively:

  • Look outside your context. Your experience of a person may be that he or she is not creative. Try to look at that person from his or her context – manager, colleague or employee – and open yourself to his or her experience of your comments.
  • Use active listening. Listen to the person speak, restate what they said as a query, and add a comment of your own that brings in a new idea. Open up a closed mind by reassuring the person that you heard them – before you add your comments or ideas.
  • Engage the person by taking the time to learn what he likes, and acknowledging that bit of humanity. Maybe this person reads a lot, or has a beloved dog, or loves to ski. These are cues to that person’s creativity, and acknowledging them gives you an emotional bargaining chip in your next attempt to infuse the workplace with creativity.
  • Work incrementally. Someone who is uncomfortable with creative ideas may respond better to small changes than big, bold ideas. Keep your creative goal in mind but break it down into components and advance your position slowly. It’s worth the effort to see creativity bloom.

Dare to take every action with a spark of creativity and you’ll feed your soul and lift the mood of your workplace. What are your creativity-builders? - Meghan M. Biro

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

 

Brainzenning – A video moment of calm and reflection.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I first connected with Sage Bray when she was nice enough to do a tweet pointing her Twitter followers to Brainzooming as a great blog for creative inspiration. Her Twitter name (@aSageInRealLife) and profile were both tremendously intriguing. Sage is involved in a very cool blend of freelance writing, art, and consulting with small businesses and solopreneurs. Her published work has appeared with Inc. Magazine, The Poor Chef, Examiner.com, and a myriad of other online periodicals. She blogs about making a living from creative endeavors on aSageInRealLife.com.

In today’s guest blog, Sage shares her perspectives on the benefits of placing creative thinking at the heart of planning:

Creativity isn’t really about random inspiration although it does seem that way sometimes. What it is really about is exploring options. Instead of falling into the “It’s done that way because that’s always how it’s been done” mode of thinking, you step outside the box, break new ground, push the limits, or get radical. Those are acts of true creativity – an essential, but often overlooked, component for a growing, vibrant business.

Even if you ask for innovative thinking from your employees or yourself, it can still be a fairly rare occurrence. That’s because it’s too easy to jump at the first viable idea that comes along. I have a rule: I must come up with an absolute minimum of three solutions to any business problem—although I try for at least 10. This means lots of wacky, crazy ideas which are fun and do result in some really interesting ideas. But it’s having choices that forces me to compare the pros and cons and really analyze what is possible.

For instance, if you want to get the word out about, say, your new casino style gaming site, you may think it’s innovative to start a campaign on Facebook, get fans, and start networking on gaming forums. And you could, and probably should. But what else could you do? There is traditional print advertising, which is becoming the rare thing to do these days. Under certain circumstances though, that could be the best choice to direct your funds, especially if you have a very targeted market. How about getting someone to dress up as Elvis and pass out coupons for free trials at local festivals? Or offer free life-long subscriptions to a couple big entertainment bloggers? Are these viable solutions for your marketing? You may laugh at the idea of some guy dressed up as Elvis promoting your business, but I know several businesses that do exactly that and they have seen significant measurable increases from this kind of promotion. No solution is too crazy – not if it works.

However, being creative and innovative does not mean just doing it differently. It means doing it well, in the best way possible, using the ingenuity you draw from others and from your experiences. Keep up your reservoir of ideas by reading plenty of blogs and newsletters, attending trade shows and local meet-up groups, and brainstorming with colleagues.

Don’t limit your exposure to things related to your specific industry either. You can glean fantastic ideas from both related and unrelated industries by simply asking yourself how their innovative ideas can relate to what you do.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel (although that sometimes happens) to keep your business growing and flexible. But you do have to be prepared to do things differently and look for creative solutions to even the most common problems. Keep in mind, the objective is to do whatever you do well. Sometimes the answer you need will be something completely ordinary and what you’ve been doing all along. The thing is, you won’t know if it’s the best solution without thinking creatively about it. – Sage Bray

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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