By Scott Westerman

Scott WestermanThis has been a week where I’ve had contacts on both sides of the economic spectrum. Several friends have told me that their business has picked up significantly within the last thirty days. At the same time, I’ve also received a number of emails from people who find themselves “between opportunities”.

Whether your personal brand is on an upswing or in need of some attention. It’s a good time to review some of the basic behaviors of career building.

Strengthen your network relationships.

“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.” – Douglas Pagels

Don’t wait until your out of work to build your network. Create your career pitch book before you need it. Expand your LinkedIn connections and the recommendations you earn. Search the group section to see what other common relationships you might have, i.e., your college and work. Reach out to friends you re-connect with on LinkedIn, but not to seek help. Seek instead to assist them with their problems. Career growth inevitably results.

Work on your personal brand.

Tom Peters 1997 article for Fast Company magazine still resonates today. “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

Make sure your social media profile pictures are appropriate. I received a letter this past week from a job searcher who’s Facebook picture consisted of him holding a piña colada while leering at a poster of a scantily clad woman. These days, the first place that HR folks look is the Internet. Put some more meat into the information section of your profile so that folks can understand you as a whole person. Think, too, about how you can further position yourself as an expert in your field. Have you taught others? Have you written anything about your profession that demonstrates your skill and experience? The web is a good place to share that knowledge, either via a personal blog or by commenting on things you read. But when you do write for the Internet… Watch your language!

Sharpen the saw.

That’s Stephen Covey’s 7th habit of highly successful people. He writes, “By renewing the four dimensions of your nature – physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional, you can work more quickly and effortlessly.”

Work now to build the skills you’ll need on the next rung of your career ladder. A couple of great books I recommend to everybody are “Never Eat Alone” the ultimate networking book, by Keith Ferrazzi, and “Lynchpin”, a superb book about building your personal brand, by Seth Godin. They are both good reads and have some useful nuggets for any situation.

Keep yourself out there.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James

Do you have a stump speech that you could give to service clubs in your area? Those organizations are always looking for an interesting program and I’ve seen expert presentations lead to promotions.

How can you give yourself away? I always recommend that folks who are between opportunities identify an organization that they are passionate about and offer their services. It could be a non-profit, or a friend’s start-up. Whatever it may be, it’s a resume item and can give you a chance to try yourself out in a fresh environment. Sharing your gifts with others is a great idea, even if you’re fully invested in your current job.

Have faith.

“Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, ‘what! You too? I thought I was the only one!’” – C.S. Lewis

Don’t be afraid to share your hopes and fears with your loved ones. These are challenging times and it’s easy to get depressed if you feel like you’re walking this road alone.. You’re not.

Have a great week!

While some of you may not have a close relationship with MSU, you’re still welcome to join our Alumni Association and take advantage of our Alumni Career Services and our worldwide network of over 400,000 Spartans. Visit http://msualum.com to learn more.


Scott Westerman has been a broadcaster, cable television executive and entrepreneur. In 2010 he joined the MSU Alumni Association as Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations & Executive Director. He is a 1978 graduate of Michigan State University. 

This blog post was originally featured on http://www.scottwesterman.com and has been used by the author’s permission

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