Meeting Recap: Expanding Your Sphere of Influence (and Your Income)
Our January speaker was Jack Molisani. Jack is the President of ProSpring Technical Staffing, the Executive Director of The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and TechComm Management, and the author of Be the Captain of Your Career:
A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon’s Career and Resume Bestseller list in 2014. He has also generously provided us with a written recap of his presentation, from which this article was fashioned.
Jack started his presentation with an anecdote from a recent conference, where attendees’ name tags included the phrase “Ask me about. . .” followed by an interesting detail that they provided at registration. From this came a major career realization: The whole concept of “personal branding” can be summarized by that simple phrase, “Ask me about. . . .”
Before he explained more about personal branding, Jack took the time to define two product-marketing concepts that relate to it: “branding” and “positioning.” He explained that branding products means giving them words (like names) or images (like company logos) to make them identifiable so that others can differentiate them from their competitors. Positioning products, on the other hand, means to communicate about products or services by comparing them to better-known products or services. Examples of positioning include calling something “stronger than steel,” “faster than FedEx,” and “cheaper than WalMart.”
As for how branding and positioning tie into personal branding, Jack posed the following question: Why do some companies underestimate the value of individual technical writers?
His answer: Lack of personal branding! Just as a company creates a brand and promotes why people should buy its products or services, so should we create our own personal brands and promote why people should buy our products or services. Jack borrowed an example from STC fellow Andrea Ames, who responds with “I solve business problems” when others inquire about what she does for a living. Andrea uses a very personal and creative method to describe her approach to her job, which speaks volumes over “I’m a UX designer” or “I write release notes.” It sounds more unique her way; it sounds more valuable. Effective branding and positioning on a personal level can communicate why companies should buy your services and pay the rate or salary that you want to be paid.
Jack concluded that a combination of dedication to one’s core values, personal branding, and responsiveness to market changes allows us to craft an “ask me about” statement that can take our careers to the next level. “Are you expert in content management systems?” He asked us. “A specialist in Simplified English? A wiz at creating cascading style sheets? Or perhaps you make software easier to use through embedded user assistance, or increase sales though better marketing collateral?”
“What should people ask you about?”
Want more career advice? Jack’s book is available on Amazon.com, and videos of Andrea Ame’s keynotes from the last two LavaCon conference are available at http://lavacon.org