One of the more difficult tasks as a solopreneur—or anyone who works in a corporate setting for that matter—is identifying the appropriate “voice” for your written communications and online interactions.
You may be tempted to try to keep your work life and private life separate when it comes to voice, but inevitably, especially thanks to social media’s proliferation, those outside of work comments and photos and activities become part of your professional brand—whether you like it or not.
On the one hand, you don’t want to try to maintain an artificially inflated version of yourself that won’t hold up under pressure but you also want to craft a polished, professional public persona that will help you meet your career goals.
So how do you balance it out?
I’ve definitely struggled with this balancing act throughout my portfolio career. The answer for me was to be transparent and consistent across my disparate activities.
For example, I was a regular arts and entertainment writer, covering all sorts of special events and concerts for a fairly hip and irreverent online publication, while working in communications for a large publicly traded corporation.
Rather than keeping my dual life a secret, I made sure to incorporate the cultural events journalist into my corporate persona. And I was always aware that anything I wrote in my off work time could possibly be read by my colleagues or even my boss. So I made sure not to step over any cultural lines, or make any comments that could be construed as not being supportive of my workplace.
How did that play out in real life? It meant I didn’t write copy that slammed big business, or that made fun of my industry, or that would be offensive to my company’s clients. That didn’t mean selling out or writing blandly either. It just meant keeping my copy positive and resisting the urge to snark. Which at the end of the day probably improved my writing—and my personal brand.
When I was poking around on LinkedIn today, I noticed something —many of my former colleagues are still using their current job title, i.e. Marketing Director or Senior Manager, as their LinkedIn headline. While it’s better than not having a headline, it’s a missed opportunity. Especially if you’ve got a portfolio career in the making.
So if you only have time to do one 10-minute task this week to focus on your professional development, make that task be to take a hard look at your LinkedIn headline, and give it an edit to better reflect the unique and marketable skills you want to apply in your work life.
3 Steps to a Better LinkedIn Headline
1.) Take a look at the skills for which others have endorsed you.
Are these skills you want to put to use in future positions, even if you aren’t using them now? Do they lend themselves to a unique and specific title, such as Editor, Coach, Illustrator, etc.? If so, make sure to include that as one part of your headline. This is especially helpful for those who are pursuing portfolio careers.
Continue reading “One Change to Make to Your LinkedIn Profile Today: Improve Your Professional Headline”
It took a recent Forbes article and an email exchange with a self-employed friend to realize that I’ve been a longstanding portfolio careerist without knowing it. If you’re not familiar with the term, a portfolio career is defined loosely as a variety of eclectic and frequently concurrent employment activities.
By that definition, I’ve been a portfolio careerist pretty much from the moment I graduated with my journalism degree and somehow ended up holding down a full-time job for a magazine, a part-time job for an alternative weekly newspaper posting content to their online community, and writing freelance articles on pop culture and arts topics. This pattern of having a full-time employer plus a 10-hour per week regular gig or a significant amount of freelancing on the side has continued throughout most of my career. Why? Because it’s the best way I know how to keep all of my marketing and communications skills sharp while ensuring I’m learning new things and conquering new challenges.
My self-employed friend is also a portfolio careerist. Her pattern looks a little different from mine, as she is typically juggling a part-time position with a small handful of short-term contracts or freelance assignments. But what we both have in common is having a significant passion around multiple skills and interest areas, and a desire to apply them to meaningful work.
So, how do you recognize that you have a portfolio career in the making? You’ll identify with or closely resemble the majority of these statements:
- You have multiple jobs not due to financial necessity only, but rather because it allows you to pursue your varied interests
- You feel invigorated by your many projects and extracurricular gigs
- When employed full time, even while very busy and engaged with your work, you’re researching other passions and daydreaming about how to incorporate them into your job
- Has a primary motivator for having changed jobs in the past been that you were getting bored with the repetition of the day-to-day work?
If you closely resemble the above, then actively committing to a portfolio career might be the right career next step for you. But before you make the leap, check out this great free portfolio career assessment tool to see how you score.
I score high on the assessment, but having tried out full-time self-employment in the past, I realize my version of a portfolio career needs to have at least a part-time on-site gig as one component. I need the mental stimulation and camaraderie of having a team with whom to brainstorm and collaborate.
What about you? What does your flavor of a portfolio career look like? And when did you first recognize yourself as a portfolio careerist?
I’ve been interested in career development ever since my first job out of journalism school—writing about career success stories and career development issues for a small magazine. Over the years, I’ve coached countless colleagues and acquaintances on improving their personal brand and helped them define their career goals. My own career has navigated an interesting and fulfilling path from journalism to nonprofit communications, then Fortune 500 MarComm and now on to technology startup content marketing. Yet for whatever reason, I’ve never blogged about those topics. But that’s about to change.
Over the years, I’ve coached countless colleagues and acquaintances on improving their personal brand and helped them define their career goals. My own career has navigated an interesting and fulfilling path from journalism to nonprofit communications, then Fortune 500 marketing communications and now on to technology startup marketing consulting. Yet for whatever reason, I’ve never blogged about those topics. But that’s about to change.
Add me to your blogroll or RSS reader of choice to hear my POV on:
- maximizing your personal brand to lead to the career opportunities you want
- defining your ideal career path
- finding and making the most of professional development opportunities
- managing and leadership coaching
- cool productivity apps and tools
- and because I’m a marketer, some marketing-specific professional development
I’m looking forward to the conversation.