It's no wonder that when you Google "personal marketing plan," more than 50 million results appear. It's also not surprising that the global professional development and training industry is worth over $50 billion annually.
As the workplace becomes more difficult to navigate and expectations of our performance rise, we are often faced with conflicting goals. They pit our need to remain true to ourselves against doing what it takes to move forward in our careers and businesses. Only by stepping back and taking full inventory of ourselves and our careers can we begin to resolve these conflicting issues that, if left untended, can threaten our health and personal relationships -- not to mention our career satisfaction and ultimate financial security.
Here are five steps to creating a personal marketing plan that can lay the groundwork in helping reduce the stress of work today.
#1: Get to know yourself and play to your strengths
To quickly identify where your skills lie, make a list of your achievements, including things you have accomplished on a professional and personal level.
Also, identify the qualities and actions that led you to those successes (noting obstacles you overcame). Include your strengths and the personal characteristics others admire about you -- and be generous. Think about your warmth, resilience, tenacity, passion, open-mindedness and conviction. Emphasize the importance of the attributes you have capitalized on to achieve your successes.
#2: Put your personal marketing plan in writing
Remember that the devil's in the details -- and no detail is too small when creating your personal marketing plan. Your plan should address the why, what, who, how and when.
Begin with your long-term career goal and define your ideal area of focus and why you are suited to it. You don't need to decide at this point what your specialty will be and it never hurts to explore your options as your career develops.
#3: Determine how you will get to your end goal
Who are the people with whom you want to connect and work with to get there? Many of them are current colleagues and peers. Some you will lose touch with and others you will know for the rest of your lives.
You have to ask yourself questions like: How will you market yourself -- and to whom? When do you want to reach your next career destination?
Once you have your plan on paper, be open to changing it as necessary. As the late John Lennon noted, Life is what happens while you are making plans and you need to be flexible.
#4: Broaden and enrich your efforts using social media and other technology
Crafting a social media plan is much more important than focusing on individual tactics when it comes to social media. This is why professionals often turn to marketing communications professionals. Genuinely good plans are not easy to build and objectivity in following a step-by-step process is critical -- setting objectives, building a strategy, and deploying the tactics to give the strategy life (e.g. through a blog post, video, or public speaking).
You must know and understand your audience. If you are not targeting specific groups, your message may well get lost. Questions to ask yourself include:
- Who is my target audience?
- Who is already talking about me?
- What are they talking about?
- Where will I find them?
- What content are they consuming?
- Who are the influencers in my market?
#5: Take the "work" out of networking
If you are just beginning to build your network, reach out to mentors who were once in your shoes. Committed mentors are insightful -- they can even suggest areas of focus in your career. And they help to keep you moving forward even when you have lost trust in others, giving you confidence to build your own network.
There is no expiration date on building a network, so make sure that three months from now, your network is broader and stronger than it is today.
The secret to building a robust network is generosity. If you want to grow your network to get something from people, you will not be as successful as if you extend generosity. You may be surprised to find out how much you have to offer others. And there's no doubt that you will get something in return.
When you start, set goals and stick to a schedule. For example, set a target of reconnecting with three people each week, having breakfast with a prospective client or referral source twice a month, or going to a conference at least once each quarter. Set aside one hour a week for network building and you will see how quickly your network will grow.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: