Late last year, as the tide of layoffs in the dotcom sector reached a groundswell, a certain bravado still characterized the newly unemployed. Pink-slip parties were all the rage in Manhattan and San Francisco. Internet castoffs were using their severance checks to travel or just to recover from a massive dotcom hangover.
But as the winter dragged on, reality began to sink in: Job = Money = Rent. And with Internet job losses totaling more than 50,000 people in the past 12 months, people who were courted enthusiastically a few months ago are now finding the job market excruciatingly tight.
Small wonder that armies of dotcom refugees are now feeling a little dispirited, wondering how to regroup and reposition themselves, especially with a layoff or two sullying their résumés.
Robin Fisher Roffer says not to worry. The marketing veteran who helped build CNN into one of TV’s most recognized news sources wants people to build brands strong enough to survive a dotcom flop. As president of Big Fish Marketing Inc., Roffer translates the rules of product marketing into a personal arena that helps people find their “big idea” and go after it.
Roffer believes that the right personal branding will secure people a future rich in fulfillment and success — even as victims of downsizing. Fast Company sat down with her to discuss her latest book, Make a Name for Yourself, and to learn how to create a personal brand after a layoff.
Lose the Guilt
Above all, promote your authentic self — your specialized set of talents and the vital strengths that you bring to the table, inside and outside of a job. Roffer says, “Constructing your brand based on these attributes shows that you offer real value, regardless of the jobs that you’ve held or lost. You must disassociate with a company’s failure. Too many people wrap up their ego in their job title.”
Get a Slogan
Create a personal mission statement and tag line. Successful companies stand firmly behind their vision and goals. In the same way that Maxwell House coffee is “Good to the last drop!” and BMW is “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” you should consistently bill yourself as the best person for the job.
Your tag line shouldn’t hinge on your company or job title. Get to know your audience’s taste and package yourself accordingly. “Like with any product, it is vital that your personal brand resonates with your audience and its specific needs,” Roffer says.
Walk the Walk
“Trade shows, conferences, and networking parties are the best ways to find jobs and are the most accurate test markets for your brand,” Roffer says. “Dress the part, walk the part, and tell others who you are. If you act the part long enough, you will become your desired brand.”
Believe in the Sacred Trinity
The sacred trinity responsible for a brand’s success is consistency, authenticity, and clarity. For example, Tide laundry detergent and Oprah Winfrey both demonstrate wholesome, reliable brands that American consumers have come to trust. Tide continues to wash clothes as consistently as Oprah promotes new books or advocates women’s issues. A recognizable brand identity communicates itself in a clear and consistent way.
There is too much emotion surrounding the new-economy slowdown and ensuing layoffs. “Your feelings should direct your mission; they shouldn’t get in the way of your success,” Roffer says. “You should not feel defeated because your company was. The past few years were a time of tremendous exploration. Those who entered the new economy were pioneers. Pioneers always get arrows in their backs, but they keep striving for their mission.”
Visit Make a Name for Yourself on the Web (www.makeaname.net).