It is interesting how "branding yourself" is quite a hot topic right now across the blogosphere. Trista Harris has a entire Do Gooder Guide dedicated to branding oneself for personal and professional success. Then there is the new book Me 2.0, which is all about "building a better brand to achieve career success." Also, Rosetta Thurman helps emerging leaders brand themselves in her series From Entry Level to Leadership.
I like reading these resources because I am going through a rebranding process myself. I believe in order to brand or rebrand oneself you must know two things:
1) What your career goals are
2) What you are good at
I recently came across Idealist's Guide to Nonprofit Careers, Chapter 3 which is dedicated to helping one do a career and self assessment. For example, one of the career assessment exercises is titled "Career Tracks." In this exercise you look at nonprofit job postings and print out or save postings that are appealing to you. Then after you collect at least 50 postings, you analyze the similarities in the postings and identify most appealing jobs and organizations.
I wish I had known about this exercise when I was starting out my career!! It has taken me quite a few years to figure out my career goals. I'm still deciding between a career as a professor in a nonprofit focused degree program, as a researcher in nonprofit focused research center (like the Urban Institute), or as a Director in a nonprofit infrastructure organization (like the Independent Sector or Idealist). While I was trying to figure out my career goals, I attended a lot of nonprofit conferences to learn about what types of organizations exist in the nonprofit sector.
Now that I know what I want to do (sort of), I am trying to rebrand myself and show what I'm good at. I no longer what to be known as an Nonprofit Operations expert, I want to be known for my expertise and knowledge of the nonprofit sector as a whole. More specifically, my knowledge of nonprofit leadership and education programs and my knowledge of the nonprofit workforce and careers within in the nonprofit sector. That is why I continue to post my doctoral papers, presentations, and research on my website.
I recently posted my Spring 2009 work which includes my research studies through the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research and my class papers about various nonprofit sector topics. These papers include The Nonprofit Congress as a New Social Movement and more.
I'm working on becoming an established and reputable nonprofit researcher in these areas. Its tough, because in a way I am starting over. Before my brand as a Nonprofit Manager allowed me to contribute in certain arenas, but now that I am a doctoral student and I'm rebranding myself, I want to contribute in other arenas.
Where are you in the branding process? Are you just starting out, or like me rebranding yourself? Or maybe if you already have an established brand, what are your tips for career success?