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5 Powerful Career Tips: What I Learned in Improv Class

Mary Rosenbaum | January 28th, 2016 | posted in Careers, career advice, career management, leadership, leadership coaching, leadership development

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 | posted in Careers, career advice, career management

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 | posted in Careers, Personal Branding, career advice, career management, personal brand management

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 | posted in Careers, Job Search, Networking, career advice, career management, job seekers


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 | posted in Careers, career advice, career management

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

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


How to Make Success Happen – It Starts With the Letter C

Mary Rosenbaum | May 21st, 2015 | posted in career advice, career management

Success doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen.

What makes some people more successful than others? Or a better question might be, why aren’t more people professionally successful?

They may lack the Courage it takes to grab at opportunities. Courage and your career are inextricably linked.

1. If you have the Courage to take a chance and step out of your comfort zone you will learn more, be more visible, and provide more value to your employer, your clients, and your friends. Volunteer for new projects, think of new ways to solve persistent problems, raise your hand more often in meetings and conferences, put yourself out there more often professionally and personally.

2. If you have the Courage to fail you will expose yourself to many more opportunities as well as add more skills to your arsenal. Failing provides you with the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. These lessons will add to your success rate building confidence along the way. And with greater confidence you can take on greater challenges more often and with greater ease.

3. If you have the Courage to take responsibility and therefore control over your career you are better able to set higher goals and attain them. Taking responsibility and control means having a realistic appraisal of who you are, where you are strong, where you need work, where you want to be in 5 or 10 years, and then following through on how to get there. Stay on a constant learning curve, grow your professional network, and make a plan.

4. If you have the Courage to ask for help the chances are greater that you will succeed in whatever you do. Realize that you can’t do it all alone. Help can take the form of creating a team for a project rather than trying to go it alone, finding mentors who can provide honest feedback and valuable support and knowledge, sponsors who can help open doors and provide direction, and coaches who can provide valuable tools for navigating your career.

5. If you have the Courage to help others without feeling personally threatened or afraid of “giving it away” you will build positive and rewarding relationships – a strong foundation for successful leaders.

6. If you have the Courage to be yourself and not who you think you should be, you will be more authentic, more likeable, and a lot happier.

So be courageous and make success happen.

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


How To Create A Memorable Elevator Pitch

What type of reaction do you get when you introduce yourself at a conference, meeting or networking event? So much has been written about the elevator pitch yet most people still have a hard time making it sound compelling, authentic and memorable.

I attended an event a few weeks ago and was surprised at how people described themselves when asked about their job or business. It was as if they had memorized a speech – not a long one of course because this was their elevator pitch, but they sounded canned and well rehearsed. Needless to say, they weren’t memorable.

If you are doing something you enjoy and are good at, describing it to anyone else should be easy; it should flow. And even more importantly, it should excite or create interest in the listener. Instead these descriptions sounded as if they were reading a label describing the contents of some packaged food product. Even worse were some of the catch phrases like – “problem-meister” – cute but could be off-putting to some.

When deciding on what to include in your introduction, think in terms of what you want them to remember about you. Here are some ideas you might want to include.

Your Introduction Should Answer These Questions

- What you do?

- Who you do it for?

- What are your deliverables (the pain points you eliminate)?

- Why should I hire or use you?

You Want To Tell Them Why

Adding some insight into who you are and why you do what you do provides an excellent foundation for connecting with other people. We always look for some commonality when we meet someone new. Sharing a passion or interest, especially if it relates to what you do opens the door for further conversation. So answer:

- What am I passionate about?

- How does my work help me feed that passion?

- What makes me feel good about what I do?

Give Them Results – Validation

- How has my experience enabled me to be successful in the work I do?

- How does the work I do satisfy my clients’/company’s needs and goals?

Be Genuine

Authenticity is magnetic. If what you say is genuine, this will elicit further questions not only about your service or work, but about you as well.

Mix It Up

Whenever I introduce myself, I have a different way of saying it each time. Although there are points I want to make, by not memorizing a script it’s more authentic and can be geared specifically to the audience I am addressing. By trying out different introductions I get a much better sense of what resonates with my audience.

Now give it try and put more of yourself into your introduction or pitch.

Need help strengthening your brand positioning? Whether you’re looking for a job or seeking a promotion, and you want to take control of your career, let’s talk about how I can help. Contact me.


Personal Branding on Steroids: Networking That Works FOR You

Mary Rosenbaum | February 24th, 2015 | posted in Careers, Networking, career advice, career management, job seekers, leadership, personal brand management

Networking is at the root of a lot of the work I do with clients, whether they are looking for a job, seeking career advancement, or want to increase their client list. Effective networking is Personal Branding on steroids. The more people know what you do and how you do it, the more you become known for your areas of expertise.

What I have found is that most of us disregard an entire group of people when we think about spreading our personal brand – our family and friends. Many of us tend to regard our family and friends differently than we do our “professional network.” Yet this is the group that has the potential to be our best brand ambassadors.

What do I mean by that? This example should help clear this up:

I was visiting with friends some time ago and inquired about someone they had known for years who had recently gone into consulting. It took them many attempts to try to identify what specialty their friend provided. They finally gave up and admitted that they really didn’t know. What if I was someone who could use this person’s services or be able to refer him to someone I knew that might need what he provides. But that will never happen.

Are your family and friends good ambassadors for letting others know what you do professionally, what your goals are, or what you are trying to achieve? Our expanded network includes not only the people we know but extends to those known to our immediate network. Just look at your LinkedIn numbers and you’ll see the scope of how your potential professional network exceeds your immediate contacts.

And with family and friends, we often overlook what I call “low hanging fruit” because we put them into different categories than we do our professional contacts.

It is important to communicate and define your brand to those you are close to in addition to those you know professionally. An integral part of personal branding is communicating what you want others to know about you and to brand those ideas and words in the minds of others so when they describe you to people they know, those are the words that will come to mind.

In providing your friends and family with information, it would be beneficial to:

  • Give them a detailed description of the type of work you do, the skills you employ in your work, the companies or industries you have worked for or the type of projects you have completed. Tell those stories that “show” your skills and that’s what they will remember.
  • Provide them with an understanding of what you need – if it’s a job or a role you want to play within an organization, be specific as to what you want to do (not only the title you want), if it’s clients you want then what type of clients would be suitable.
  • Let them know what your qualifications are so they have a clear picture of who you are, and consequently, they can more easily convey your expertise to others.

You need to let them know what you are good at, what makes you good at it (your validation), who you work with or for, and what you want or need. Don’t overlook the value of this type of “word of mouth” advertising. So go ahead, ask your friends if they can describe you in a way that conveys your expertise as well as your needs and wants. If not, get to work and spread the word.


Personal Branding: What You Do Is Only A Small Part of Your Story

Mary Rosenbaum | February 6th, 2015 | posted in Personal Branding, career advice, job seekers, personal brand management

An important part of your personal brand is your story. The most difficult part of defining your personal brand is unearthing and then communicating what makes you good at your job, why you stand out, and what propels you to do what you do.

Each of us has a unique story – one that helps us stand out.

Some time ago I worked with a young woman, a daughter of a friend of mine, who was a senior at a high-ranking university. She was able to get great first interviews during on-campus interview season. Her problem was she rarely made it to a second interview and couldn’t figure out why.

Compared to her fellow students who were getting those call backs, she had similar grades and had taken the same courses as they did. She thought that her lack of professional experience during her college summers held her back. She had chosen to travel extensively each summer rather than “pay her dues” and work as a summer intern in the financial industry (her preferred career choice).

That wasn’t her problem.

What we identified as an issue was her inability to create a cohesive story that would encourage an interviewer to want to know more about who she was and what she had to offer. There was nothing about her story that made her memorable- and standing out was critical given the sheer number of interviews companies scheduled each day they were on campus. Her story, or lack of story, made her forgettable.

Through our work together she realized that she was more than just the courses she took and the grades she earned. That even someone without work experience has experiences that build and exemplify initiative, creativity, leadership, flexibility, resilience, and intuitiveness – each of which are highly valued by prospective employers.

Once we delved deeper into her life and her experiences, we were able to add some color to how she represented herself. Some of the experiences we drew from included:
-  She was President of her sorority.

-  As President, she initiated and executed on a variety of fund raising programs for local charities.

-  She ran the sorority’s finance committee.

- Through her summer travels she learned how to navigate the world, deal with some adverse situations, communicate with people of different cultures, and come to understand that people of other cultures respond to a variety of behaviors in very different ways.

We took these experiences and fleshed them out into stories that highlighted the soft skills that so many employers want. These stories coupled with her strong academic credentials provided interviewers with a more interesting candidate. She gave them enough information so they had greater insight into who she was, what she might have to offer, and how she stood out from her competitors. Her story of growing up in NYC leading up to her desire to work in finance was cohesive, informative and differentiating.

As a professional, you have many experiences to draw from but never forget that your story is comprised of all your experiences and serves as a differentiating factor in how and why you do what you do. Your story should provide us with a glimpse of your character –your passions, your motivators, your values – and how these impact your professional life.

STAND OUT and BE MEMORABLE!

Need help standing out, contact me.