Careers, Personal Branding, career advice, career management, personal brand management

Does Your Reputation MAKE You or BREAK You? How to Manage Your Reputation.

Mary Rosenbaum | February 15th, 2017

What do THEY think?

Do you rush out to see a movie or eat in a restaurant your friends have panned? Would you hire someone whose reviews are mixed?  Our actions are impacted by the opinion of others. Reputations are the bedrock of how decisions, both large and small, are made. This applies to our reputations as well.

Your reputation can make or break you and that’s never been truer than it is today. And what’s also true is that YOU are in charge of your reputation. Your personal brand, your reputation, is your calling card. It’s what opens doors – or keeps them permanently shut.

Whether you are in your own business or working for someone else, everyone wants and needs to be recommended. Just look at the proliferation of likes, recommends, and follows on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.  But do the numbers you rack up on these sites leverage your reputation, your career or your business or is it just a numbers game?

HOW DOES YOUR REPUTATION SPREAD?

Have you ever been surprised to learn that a meeting or an interview you thought would be a breeze to set up suddenly didn’t happen or was canceled and never rescheduled?  Or interviews that went well but never went anywhere afterwards? Yes, sometimes other things happen that halt the process but through my work with clients I have seen these situations be derailed by what I call “bad press.”

The definition of a personal brand is the opinion others hold of you in their hearts and minds. That’s the basis for word of mouth buzz – “good or bad press”.

Word of mouth buzz is viral and can have an even more positive or devastating effect than social media because it’s a direct hit. It lands directly on your immediate target group – potential

HOW DO YOU LEARN WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU?

I have found that no matter how many times you tell someone to give you an “honest” appraisal of you, your skills, abilities, potential, etc., their response is always somewhat short of the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  That’s why it’s important to have a way to independently seek out reviews and appraisals that provide you with the feedback you need to improve and strengthen your reputation.  After all, it’s difficult to measure “how am I doing?” if you don’t have the right measuring stick.

There are formal and informal ways in which you can obtain independent appraisals.

1. Many companies today provide avenues for co-workers as well as managers to weigh in on year end appraisals. This is valuable information and should be a great starting point for you to parse through it to look for not only the positive comments but more importantly, those areas where improvement can be made.

2. Conducting your own 360 Feedback by hiring a coach who can help you interpret the results of either in-person or online offerings would be another way to go.

3. And lastly, requests made directly by you to managers and co-workers inside and outside your immediate sphere for honest appraisals in the interest of improving your career prospects would probably yield some valuable information. And the more people you ask, the more accurate your feedback will be.

The value of obtaining honest feedback is gaining a newfound ability to answer the following questions:

- Do people see me the same way I see myself?

- Is my value recognized?

- What needs further highlighting?

- What can or should I give up to strengthen my reputation, my personal brand?

- What do I need to add to my arsenal of skills to enhance and build a stronger reputation?

- Does my reputation, reflect my short and long term professional aspirations? Or will it hold me back?

YOUR REPUTATION PRECEDES YOU

We all know that social media plays a pivotal role in helping you establish your personal brand. Before I meet anyone, I Google them, and look them up on LinkedIn. I want to know as much as I can about them before our first interaction. And I know I’m not alone in doing this.

Before the first conversation, I already have some opinion about that person. Of course, it’s not complete, but it’s more than just having a name and becomes my starting point for getting to know who they are. Whether the news is good or bad, it’s out there for anyone to read. And therefore it’s important for you to keep track of if and how you come across on social media.

So be honest with yourself when you answer these questions and then fix what isn’t working:

- Does my LinkedIn profile point directly at my personal brand – what I want to be known for?

- Do my profiles and appearances on all social media sites adequately answer the “Why pick me?” question?

- Is there anything on Facebook or any other social media site that can prove embarrassing or somehow diminish my personal brand?

- Am I visible on the web? Do I show up?

- What can I do to increase my visibility on the web that enhances my personal brand?

You are in charge of your personal brand so make sure your reputation MAKES you – not BREAKS you.

For business owners, I wrote a piece for FOX Small Business on reputation that might interest you.

Need help with strengthening your personal brand, contact me.


Is Your CAREER by DESIGN or by MISTAKE?

Mary Rosenbaum | January 17th, 2017

Your Key to Success

Are you where you are because of careful planning, accident or mistake?

Too often we get stuck in the routine of doing our job. With a 24/7 mentality in most work places it seems daunting enough to just get the work done well without having to think about the future. This behavior leads us to become reactive rather than proactive when it comes to making career decisions.

The work environment today is highly competitive, extremely fluid, change focused, results oriented, and value driven. If you don’t take control of your career, others will do it for you – for better or for worse.

You have to commit to managing your career, not to just doing your job. Get into the mindset that you have control and once you do that, you are ready to take on the tasks of taking control.

There are many ways to manage your career and here are a few “must do” steps to take.

1. Set goals with specific time frames for achieving them. You want to be able to have short and long term goals that provide you with direction. For some, those goals might be a promotion to a more senior level, for others, greater leadership responsibility or a new role within your organization. Setting achievable goals within a realistic time frame and keeping to it provides you with direction and structure. This lets you know where you want to go and how fast you need to move to get there on time.

Consider asking someone to hold you accountable for achieving these goals on a time schedule that you create. A coach, a friend, a colleague, a manager, a mentor – being held accountable is what will help you be successful.

2. Find a role model. If someone has the position or responsibilities you want it would be valuable to compare your offerings, abilities, experience, and talents with theirs. An honest and thorough analysis of the hard and soft skills they have and the behaviors they exhibit will enable you to see how you measure up, where your added value lies, and what areas need further growth and improvement.

And if you come up short on the comparison, make a plan to fill in those blank spaces with the skills, experiences, and contacts you need.

3. Manage your personal and leadership brand. Understand how others see you. Knowing how others view you is a great starting point for enhancing and managing your personal and leadership brand. If you’re not viewed as “leadership” or “front office” material, what achievements can you amplify to alter their perception of your skills and abilities.

A 360 assessment, asking for direct and honest feedback from those around you (colleagues, managers, friends), or a deeper dive into your performance evaluations, are ways in which you can complete this step.

4. Grow your tribe. Build your tribe of supporters and collaborate with them in their growth and development. Your tribe is your greatest asset. They can be relied upon as advisors as well as providers of information and contacts. Help them as much as you can as selflessly as you can.  As with anything that grows, when you nurture these relationships, they can last a lifetime.

5. Find a mentor and/or a coach and ask for help. Find someone whose experience and wisdom in navigating his/her way to success can help you on the road to achieving your goals. Issues such as navigating the organization, dealing with generational differences and work/life issues, and structuring your career path can be daunting and any help along the way is always welcome.

6. Increase your visibility. Make sure the decision makers inside your organization are exposed to you, to the work you do and to your accomplishments. Take on or volunteer for projects or write articles for your company newsletter that spotlight your skills and abilities and have greater visibility across different areas within your company. It is a great way to “show rather than tell” that you are ready to take on greater responsibilities.

7. Communicate your goals. Let those in power know what your goals are so that when an opportunity arises you can be considered in the mix. Silence is not golden.

8. Find a Sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can help open doors and make introductions that will provide you with the visibility you need. To be successful at finding the right sponsor make sure you have the credibility and validity you need to gain their trust and their help. (More on Sponsors can be found here.)

So Make it Your Career by Design by taking control of your career.

Need help in defining and achieving your goals? Want a Career by Design and not by Mistake? Contact me.

Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities.


5 Ways to Bullet Proof Your Career & Your Personal Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | December 8th, 2016

Bullet Proof Your Career

Your reputation – your personal brand – is your calling card in business and in life. It precedes you (think word of mouth, performance evaluations, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). How your personal brand is impacted (voluntarily or involuntarily) directly affects your career and/or business. At the same time, the trajectory of your career has a direct impact on your personal brand. Yes, there is a symbiotic relationship between the

Here are some things you can do to bullet proof your career & your personal brand – and protect the value of that calling card.

1. Never stop growing and changing – Stay curious and be open to new ideas.

New information enables you to be more flexible and innovative, both key words in staying competitive and moving ahead in business today. Rather than let your usual filter be based on experience and “the way things have always been done”, be open to allow for creativity and innovation to seep into your work and your life.

Great tennis players like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Venus Williams remain great by constantly upping their game – new serves, new techniques, new strokes, new coaches. Complacency would never be part of their playbook. And it shouldn’t be part of yours either.

In order for you to be great and stay great you have to keep learning – take courses, read books and articles, attend lectures and conferences, listen to colleagues, bring on advisors and coaches, and let new ideas take you in new directions.

So grow your personal brand by increasing your experiences and expanding your capabilities.

2. Make goal setting a priority.

“In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.” Author Unknown

Accidental success is rare. Goals create a road map that helps you manage your career and bolster your personal brand. By identifying your goals you can better address what you need in order to attain them –education, greater visibility, improved communication, more or different experiences. Goals provide structure and create a purposeful plan for you to build your career.

Break your long-term goal in manageable, bite-size steps – instead of shooting for a 10 year goal – think of where you need to be in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years – and what you need to get to these milestones first. This way your goals become less overwhelming and more attainable.

3. Understand your value – What’s in it for them?

When you know the value you provide to your organization and/or your clients you can more effectively focus on strengthening those skills and talents that make you stand out. Strong personal brands are known for something – not for many things. Knowing your value allows you to magnify its intensity.

Additionally, understanding your value provides you with the leverage you need when evaluating future opportunities and negotiating compensation or fees.

4. Get out of your comfort zone – Say yes to new opportunities.

Nothing in business is forever anymore – greater efficiencies along with improved technological advances continue to shrink jobs across a wider swath of industries.

No job is totally “safe”. So you have to take more risks. Getting comfortable in your career may sound desirable but it’s a sure way to close off opportunities that might propel you forward quicker and in new directions. Greater exposure to new experiences enhances what you do and/or the service you deliver, adding another dimension to your personal brand.

No Pain, No Gain. Just choose wisely which risks you take. Always k#eep your goals front and center and know well which consequences are acceptable in the event of failure.

5. Mind your character and your reputation – It’s YOUR personal brand.

Critical components of your personal brand are your values and your behavior. Your values are as unique as your fingerprints; they define your character. Once you are clear on what your values are they become your own personal litmus test of what you want, how you want to live, who you want to be with, work with, and what you want to do.

When you live your values you are in equilibrium, you are authentic to who you are – the world is great.

Your reputation is based on how others view you. Your reputation consists of not only your values, but includes how you do your work and how you interact with others. It’s the memory people have of their experience of working and spending time with you. As we all know, your reputation is fragile and is often synonymous with your personal brand. Doing your best work and treating others with respect each and every time will ensure that you maintain the reputation you want and deserve.

Stay curious, be bold, take risks – and move forward with purpose and confidence. A strong personal brand will bullet proof your career and help you get ahead.

Do you want to find new ways to strengthen your personal brand and bullet proof your career? Then let’s talk.


6 Career Tips: How to Stand Out in Your Company

Mary Rosenbaum | May 2nd, 2016

Standing Out

Are you known for doing special work in your department or company? Are you the go-to person for certain of your skills? Do people like to work with you? Do you get good reviews from your manager? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then it sounds as if you have a strong personal brand, a positive reputation.

The next question is: How visible are you outside your immediate department? Having a great personal brand but lacking visibility in your company is much like throwing a great party but failing to send out the invites. How do you get in front of those who need to know about you so you can be tapped for those choice assignments or to fill those positions so you can get ahead?

Getting visible sometimes requires you to take a chance and stick your neck out. Remember that keeping your head down and just doing your job is no longer a winning formula for getting visible and getting ahead.

Here are some tips on ways to gain greater visibility.

1. Make sure those who have the power know your unique value. Make sure that updates about projects you are proud of working on get sent to those that need to know. It’s hard to cc the big boss on all your emails, but it might be possible for you to volunteer for a project that puts you in closer proximity where she/he can see you in action as well as hear of your successes. Use caution that you don’t overuse the cc resulting in emails looking more like spam than like real information.

2. Attend meetings or speaking engagements where the power people congregate and network with them before and after these events. The idea is for them to know your name, what you do, what you are capable of doing, and what your unique value is to the firm.

3. Start an internal blog with postings that would be of interest to people in your firm, be on brand, and demonstrate your thought leadership. Blogging is not a dead art. In fact, if the information is useful it remains a great way to get widespread recognition. You could discuss articles, white papers, or interesting work that’s being done in your area that would bring to light your knowledge and expertise while gaining much greater visibility.

4. Networking across departments in your company is critical to developing relationships and alliances. By expanding your network outside your immediate area you gain a better understanding of what other areas of your firm are doing, the expertise they have and need, and how your skills and abilities can be utilized and augmented to better manage your career. By getting to know other people in your company you can all benefit by becoming each other’s brand ambassadors.

5. Don’t wait for new projects to find you. Everyone is busy but it’s important to take the time to find new ways to contribute to your company’s success/bottom line. Be creative and identify projects that showcase your creativity. By doing that you will be demonstrating your unique value, and building your own net worth and social capital (you make your boss look good if you look good).

6. Is there a project you would love to work on in a different department? If it furthers your career goals, is on brand, and would be a great way to highlight your skills and abilities volunteer to get involved. I know that this can sometimes be difficult to accomplish but this is where your exposure to those with influence helps. Try getting permission by focusing your request not only on why you would be a great addition to the project and add value but that the experience and perhaps even the results would benefit your department as well.

Are there other ways you know of standing out and getting greater visibility and recognition? Please share them with us.

Want to Stand Out? Let’s talk.


5 Powerful Career Tips: What I Learned in Improv Class

Mary Rosenbaum | January 28th, 2016

I recently attended my first improvisation class. It was everything I thought it would be: scary, difficult, fun, and a unique learning experience. What I noticed was the similarity between the skills you need to be good at improvisation and those skills you need to grow professionally and to become a good leader.

The learnings from my first class are:

1. Collaboration is Critical, Trust is a Must. Improvisation is all about collaboration and effective collaboration cannot exist without trust. You have to learn to go with the ebb and flow of who is “running” the skit. It can start with you but shift quickly to your partner based on what she says. You have to trust that whatever you say will be accepted and built on by your partner, and vice versa. Without collaboration and trust, the conversation goes nowhere.

As a leader or an aspiring leader, you know that you can’t do it alone.Any work product you deliver is often the result of requests you have made and of information you have received. This collaborative effort can only succeed if you trust the information others provide to you based on their willingness to do what it takes to give you what you need. And their willingness is also based on trust.

I had a client who worked on a project for three months only to discover that she had misunderstood the project almost from the get-go. The truth was that she felt she could complete it better and faster by herself than she could by enlisting the help of others. She didn’t trust them to provide her with meaningful assistance. In retrospect, had she asked for help, she would have gained more insight into the project itself and been able to produce the right results in a timely fashion.

2. Be Flexible, Be Nimble, Be Open. I learned very quickly that you can’t get stuck on the way you want a skit to play out because the great unknown is what your partner is going to do or say next.

I was part of a two person skit. In my head I wanted it to play out as an impatient editor (me) dealing with an overwhelmed reporter . It ultimately turned into a story about a woman throwing her husband out the window. And it worked much better than I could have imagined. The shift energized me and made my creative juices flow. I just had to allow the shift to happen and find the words to make it work.

The same holds true for you as a professional. Many of us when faced with a project have preconceived notions of how the work should be handled based on our past experience.

How often have you found yourself delegating (or being told) what to do, how to do it, and then getting it done in just that way? What if you allowed others to provide their views of how it could be done or even who could do what?

Yes, it might be very different from what you intended. It might even take more time or yield different results (good or bad). What it will result in is better engagement by those on your team, an increased sense of responsibility and ownership on everyone’s part, and more creative ideas being presented in the future and therefore better performance. And let’s not forget, it might even yield better results than you imagined.

3. Think Creatively – Take a Broader View and Have an Elastic Mind.Improvisation is a little like being inside a Rubik’s Cube. There are so many ways to respond to what someone says. Looking at your response in a 3 dimensional way allows you to be more creative. For example, when I was fed the line that the wife pushed her husband out the window, by thinking of different scenarios, I could have said, “Wow! She’s the Senator from Oklahoma, won’t that make a juicy story since she’s up for re-election.” And then the story could go off in different directions. Of course, it was my first class. I didn’t think of that line at the time, but I learned how to work my mind around that type of situation for the next time.

Training your mind to think creatively is a necessity in today’s world. Looking at problems in a 3 dimensional way allows you to see the implications across departments. Finding issues before they become problems, or finding new ways to produce a product, deliver a service, or do the job you have always done demands a broader view and a more elastic mind.

4. The Power of “Yes And.” One of the cardinal rules of improv is not to negate what your partner is saying to you but rather to take what they say, acknowledge it by saying “yes, and”, then add more substance to the statement which helps it move in some direction.

Have you ever been in a work situation where you make a recommendation and it’s quickly negated by your peers or managers? What effect has that had on you? Being shut down on a regular basis makes it difficult to continue to make suggestions on an ongoing basis. And if that ceases to be part of your behavior, it will limit your growth potential. As a manager, leader or peer, take the time to say “yes, and” to see if the suggestion has merit and then, if necessary, lead the discussion in another direction.Acknowledgement provides room for future ideas to emerge.

5. Be Fearless. Taking this class brought out my two biggest fears – performing in front of group without a script thereby making a fool of myself, and a fear of failing. This is not to say that I have overcome my fear, but I also learned that the adrenaline boost I get makes my mind sharper and more focused. I still feel a bit foolish and uncomfortable, and I know some of the skits fail to take off. But I think the risks will ultimately be worth the reward.

Fear of failure and fear of making a fool of yourself are the two reasons why we don’t often challenge ourselves enough at work. Being comfortable feels good, but it won’t get you very far from a career standpoint. Challenging conventional wisdom, taking on projects not necessarily in your wheel-house, trying out new techniques or new ways of doing the same old same old all require taking on some risk. And sometimes you will fail. But I know the risk will be worth the reward.

Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities. She has worked with clients from a variety of industries including Financial, Hospitality, Technology, Law, Real Estate, Journalism, Non-Profit, and Human Resources. For more information email email hidden; JavaScript is required


The Power of Focusing on the Positive

Mary Rosenbaum | December 18th, 2015

Everyone likes to be around people who are positive. But did you know that if you focus your observations and conversations on the good things that happen at work, you will be happier, less stressed out, more productive and creative, will sleep better and be better company to those around you at work and at home.

A recent article titled The Powerful Effect of Noticing Good Things at Work by Joyce E. Bono and Thesesa M. Glomb recounts the findings of a study that seems to validate this. We are all victims to ruminating or reliving all the negative things that happen to us. At night we talk about them with our friends or family or we may complain about them at work.

What Bono and Glomb found is that by spending just 10 minutes at the end of every day writing about three events that had gone well during the day, large or small, personal or professional, and then explaining why they went well, can change your entire mindset. After three weeks of performing this exercise they found that it helped people detach from work at the end of the day, reduced their stress levels, helped them sleep better and since they were more rested they were also more creative at work.

It’s not easy to ignore the negative but a more concentrated effort to focus on what worked well makes it a lot easier to deal with the “bad stuff” in the morning. This could be a great way to start the New Year off right.

Read a related blog post on Celebrating Your Successes

Here’s wishing you a great year ahead filled with success!


Feedback: Learn More So You Can Earn More

Mary Rosenbaum | December 8th, 2015

How open are you to feedback from those you work with and for, or even from friends and relatives? I know from past experience that praise goes down real easy. Constructive criticism, no matter how couched the wording, goes down like castor oil – it may be good for you but it tastes really bitter and you want to spit it out as quickly as possible.

Yet, how can we learn so we can continue to earn? How we view and judge ourselves is very much like the way we see ourselves in the mirror. The mirror I look at is different than the one that others hold up in front of me. To prove it let me ask you this question:

Have you ever walked down the street and caught your reflection in a store’s plate glass window? Is it the same image you see every morning in your bathroom mirror? I know for a fact it isn’t the same image for me or for most people I know. Seeing yourself with “fresh” eyes can be an enlightening experience.

Obtaining feedback from others is a great way to see yourself with “fresh” eyes. But only if you let yourself really hear what they have to say.

Recently while working with a client, let’s call him Steve, it became clear that there was a distinct disconnect between the feedback and the reviews Steve was receiving and the way he thought he came across. Steve kept hearing that his work was good but that he needed to be more of a team player, be more outward focused and that he lacked leadership skills. Although his work was exemplary he was never considered for a more senior role or for more visible projects. In attempting to remedy this, he tried to gain greater visibility with senior management by highlighting his successes through emails and increased participation during meetings. Nothing helped. His career was stalled.

When receiving feedback, Steve became defensive and believed that he did everything right, that the feedback was wrong, and that it was based on either jealousy or fear. He didn’t realize that he needed to change his behavior and deliver on the full value of his company’s expectations for someone in his role: his job included helping to ensure that those on his team completed their tasks as well as he did so that creativity, speed, accuracy, and success could be achieved for the group as a whole, not just for him. His attempts at grabbing the limelight got him visibility alright – but not in the way he hoped it would.

Because of his continued refusal to see himself with “fresh eyes”, his personal brand, his reputation, was damaged.  Only when he gained a better understanding of the wide gap that existed between his behavior and the company’s expectations could he then begin the difficult task of repairing his reputation. And that is still a work in progress.

As someone who specializes in helping clients understand, communicate, and leverage their personal brands, I know that one of the main ingredients in the branding process is being clear on the impact you have on others (seeing your reflection in a different mirror). Why? Because in your personal and professional life, your reputation, how you are known, will always precede you.

You are always trying to reach your networks network so you have to know: What are your followers going to say to theirs? What information will Steve’s current and former bosses and colleagues be passing along to others? And what impression has Steve been conveying to others both inside and outside the company with whom he has contact?

How others view your work and the value you deliver may be different than your own perceptions of how you come across. Here are a few ways to continue to learn so you can earn:

1. Solicit feedback. Ask those around you for ways you could improve upon what you do for or with them. They will feel flattered that you think their opinion is valuable. By having them try to help you get better or clearer on the way you work makes them feel like partners in your success.

2. Be courageous and be humble. Rather than becoming defensive and going into attack mode thank those providing feedback for their honesty. Let the words sink in. Go back and think about what you heard not from the standpoint of how you felt when you heard them but rather how these words apply to what you know about yourself versus how others see you. Most importantly use these comments to help move you closer to where you want to be.

3. Reciprocate with honest feedback and become a partner in the success of others.

For those of you who have the courage to gain a better understanding of how you impact others and how this affects your career, contact me for information on how I can help you highlight your strengths and define your brand.

Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities. She has worked with clients from a variety of industries including Financial, Hospitality, Technology, Law, Real Estate, Journalism, Non-Profit, and Human Resources.


Success: Is it all about WHO you know?

Mary Rosenbaum | October 19th, 2015


Is it all about WHO you know and not WHAT you know? The answer is yes and no. WHO you know can help get you in the running for that promotion, that job, that piece of new business. WHAT you know will help you turn possibilities into reality.

Studies over the past couple of years have proven that larger, diversified networks have a significant impact on your career and your earning capability. The relationship between network size, quality and expected wages is positive. The results of studies over the past 20 years reinforce the fact that wage rates of the most well connected are 15% to 25% higher than those with few connections.

The importance of growing your network cannot be overstated. But the value of your network lies not solely in the numbers. The quality of its members is a vital component. Two of my past posts focused on growing your network and building your tribeBut what about the quality of your network?

Your network consists of two categories of members: those with whom you have close ties and those with weak ties.

Close ties are those relationships where people know you well and understand what you do. You already know many of their contacts and the type of information they can provide. Generally, you travel in the same circles, belong to many of the same social groups, and may even work in the same company or industry.

Weak ties are the opposite. You know them but are not close. You don’t travel in all the same circles therefore you are not familiar with their networks. Because they are not in your immediate circle, they have information and contacts that may prove to be valuable for you, your career and your business. In fact, it’s through weak ties that the majority of leads are disseminated regarding employment and business opportunities. In short, weak ties enable you to reach populations and audiences that are not accessible via strong ties.

Not to confuse things but “followers” on social media networks do not generally fall into the category of weak ties. Although the broad definition of weak ties may fit, you still have to have some form of relationship built on trust, contact, or experience in order for there to be any form of information and contact sharing that extends beyond the superficial. Unless you build a relationship beyond 140 characters your followers cannot be considered weak ties.

What can you do to increase your network in a purposeful way?

First and foremost, ensure that you continue to deepen your close relationships so that you can each act as brand ambassadors for the other. Although they may have more limited resources to share it’s always valuable to have people who are “in your corner.” Their role as advisors, supporters, and cheerleaders is vital to maintaining your confidence and continued professional growth.

To grow your network of weak ties, seek out opportunities where you can meet people from different backgrounds:

- join organizations not related to what you do

volunteer at nonprofits outside your immediate community

keep in touch with former colleagues since their network will be different once they leave

strengthen relationships with “followers” and LinkedIn connectionsso there can be more meaningful reciprocity in sharing information and contacts

attend events that interest you and are outside your immediate sphere of influence

take new classes and expand your horizons

Grow WHO you know with purpose so you can showcase WHAT you know.

What other ways do you grow your network?

Want to discuss this in person? Contact me.


7 Ways to Boost Your Career This Summer

Mary Rosenbaum | July 13th, 2015

You know summer has arrived when all you want to do is take off those shoes and switch them out for a pair of flip flops or sandals.  This is also a great time to take advantage of the lazy hazy crazy days of summer and bulk up on some new ideas that you can incorporate in your business or career. Although business goes on as usual during these next few months, the slower pace can provide you with ample time to try something new.

Here are some ideas for you to make this summer productive and rewarding:

1. I have found that this is a great time to connect with those people you have always wanted to meet. Since relationship building is the cornerstone to a healthy business and career, this time of year is as good a time as any to extend yourself and grow your professional network. So reach out to thought leaders in your industry, leaders in your company, potential, past, and current clients, and colleagues both inside and outside your company and grow and solidify your universe of contacts.

2. Are there skills you want to master or courses you want to take that will help propel you forward toward your professional goals? Check out your local schools, libraries, and professional organizations for courses and lectures that might interest you.

3. Want to explore career options outside your current area? As I wrote in the first paragraph, this is a great time of year to make connections with people outside your current industry and learn more about other industries and professions. See how your skill set fits into jobs you might never have considered before.

4. Write an article, give a talk, start a blog - all of these are great ways to demonstrate your area of expertise and spread your personal brand.

5. Now might be a good time to update your resume or bio – it’s always wise to have updated materials ready should the need arise.

6. Spend some time being introspective. Use those walks on the beach or on a mountain path to take stock of where you are professionally and personally. Figure out what is working for you, what is making you happy, and what you can/want to give up. And then make your plan and execute on it.

7. Summer is also a wonderful time to read some of those great books out there and pick up some new tools to help you with your business, your career, and your life (not to mention great summer beach reads). I was away on vacation this past week and I had a chance to actually read some of those books that have piled up on my nightstand and Kindle. Here is my list (some old, some new) of what can make the summer (or winter for those of you who are reading this from somewhere down under) more interesting and productive:

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie (An oldie but still a goodie)

“Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor – The New Way to Fast Track Your Career” by Sylvia Ann Hewlett

“The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey

“Start With Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action” by Simon Sinek

“Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman

If you’re looking for something interesting and absorbing and if you haven’t read “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls then by all means get started – it’s fast, well written and unbelievable but true. Another great read is “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown – you don’t have to be a fan of boating to enjoy it.

Do you have a favorite book? Whether it’s for work or play, please share your books with us. Do you have any other ways that you use this time productively? Let us know.

So enjoy the season, whatever season you are in, and use this time to grow, learn, and expand.

Want to work on your career this summer? Whether it’s strengthening your personal or leadership brand,  improving your interviewing skills or interested in starting a job search, let’s talk.


Want a Career Lift? How to Get and Keep a Sponsor

Mary Rosenbaum | June 9th, 2015

WE ALL WANT THIS – someone who is committed to helping us achieve our career goals – someone who will open the right doors, introduce us to the right people, recommend us for the projects we want, the positions we want, the clients we want, and the raises we want. SOMEONE WHO WILL FIGHT FOR US.

That someone who is committed to helping you is a sponsor, not to be confused with a mentor. A sponsor provides strategic input and makes it happen. A sponsor is an active advocate who will use his/her influence to spotlight you and your achievements so as to enable you to reach your goals. A sponsor is usually one or two levels above your direct manager in a large company or a founder/president of a small company. A sponsor does not necessarily work in your company but is in a position to use their network, knowledge and experience to open doors and be your brand ambassador.

By contrast, a mentor plays a more passive role. He/she is someone who can help you navigate your company, answer your questions, provide you with constructive criticism and suggest ways to improve your work product. A mentor is usually one level above you but can be more senior depending on the organization.

So how do we get want we want?

FINDING (AND KEEPING) A SPONSOR

1. Find the right person. In order to ensure a strong sponsor/protégé relationship, look for someone who embodies your same values, whose strengths you value, who has not only the seniority to help you but the network you seek to penetrate.

- Identify the senior managers who benefit from the results of the projects you complete and seek out opportunities to make an introduction.

- Attend corporate events and introduce yourself at meetings and events.

- Join and actively engage in outside organizations where you can demonstrate your expertise (charitable, community, educational, professional) and gain exposure to higher level professionals and/or those with strong influence.

- At times you can convert a mentor/mentee relationship into a sponsor/protégé relationship if your mentor has the skills, seniority, and network that you seek and the willingness to make the shift.

Finding the right sponsor who wants to take on the role takes time and research but is well worth the effort.

2. Leave mediocrity at the door. Do your best work – ALWAYS. You have to be noticed and recognized as someone who can deliver superior work each and every time. Volunteer for projects, especially the ones where your potential sponsor would be likely to hear about or benefit from the results.

In order for your sponsor to go out on the limb for you, he/she must be confident that you won’t tarnish their reputation, their personal brand. Once the relationship is secure, you become their brand ambassador – your work reflects on them and their leadership skills.

3. Ask for what you want and be specific. Once you have identified a potential sponsor, ask for a meeting. Once there, you can describe your background, highlight your successes and skills, and most importantly, be specific in describing your immediate and long-term career goals. Ask for criticism and advice on how to achieve the goals you set for yourself given the background you described.

Remember, you’re not asking for a job; you’re asking for professional advice.

4. Are you sponsor worthy? How does your personal brand stand up? Once you ask, you can be sure that inquiries will be made regarding you, your work, the value you provide, and how you fit in with the culture of the organization. Make sure your reputation, your personal brand, is as strong as you described. If not, put some work into how you are viewed, your visibility and your credibility before you make the ask.

5. Give as good as you get. Since the sponsor/protégé relationship is somewhat symbiotic, it’s equally important the sponsor you select can benefit from your strengths and your network as well. A mutually beneficially relationship is what will make it a successful one. Loyalty and trust is the bedrock of this relationship.

Keep them in the loop on topics that might be of interest and help to them – your network and your perspective differ from theirs, so your opinions count. Offer assistance whenever possible in helping them achieve their goals both inside and outside the organization.

6. Keep the lines of communication open and constant. Ask for and accept feedback, provide updates on your progress, check in regularly (in person, on the phone and via email). Silence and an unwillingness to accept criticism will kill the relationship.

7. Pay it forward. Become a sponsor yourself. It’s never too early to take on this valuable role – because both the sponsor and the protégé benefit from this relationship. As mentioned earlier, good protégés help their sponsors by supporting them and providing them with valuable input. Building a team of loyal, trustworthy, accomplished professionals reflects back on your leadership skills and enhances your personal brand.

Additionally, your sponsors bask (professionally) in your success when you grow your network of protégés.

8. Don’t limit yourself to one sponsor. As your career progresses, your needs will change. Adding to your arsenal of supporters can only enhance your career progression. But remember, maintaining each relationship takes work, a time commitment, loyalty, and a responsibility to deliver on your promise of excellence and support. So choose carefully and choose wisely.

If you have any additional comments and suggestions please let us know.

Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities. For more information email email hidden; JavaScript is required