Own It: Reclaiming Your Professional Identity

I hate to break it to you, but you've been subconsciously downsizing your skill set by linking watered down terms to your professional identity. I'm guilty, too. 

Lately, I’ve noticed the use of these three terms that are hindering our ability to effectively communicate our brand message.

Freelance

Freelance | working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company.

I’ve often referred to myself as a ‘freelance copywriter’. I’m now observant of how the term ‘freelance’ is generally perceived by others. People that approach us for services may get the idea that we do 100% pro bono work or we’re willing to accept any project that comes our way. A lot of creatives want to be paid for their services + are allowed to be choosy when taking on new clients.

Independent Contractor | a natural person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services to another entity under terms specified in a contract or within a verbal agreement.

Much better! 

Aspiring

aspiring | directing one's hopes or ambitions toward becoming a specified type of person.

If you have an education or have taken your own time to shape your skill set, you aren’t aspiring to be anything. You already are! By dropping aspiring you are claiming your confidence in your services and your brand. I see this term a lot on LinkedIn profiles.

Declare what you are and what you have to offer. You’ve earned your spot!

Up-and-coming

Up-and-coming | (of a person beginning a particular activity or occupation) making good progress and likely to become successful.

“Likely” doesn’t sound too promising to me. I usually hear this term when it comes to the entertainment field. You’re not an ‘up-and-coming’ artist if you’ve been spending countless hours in the studio crafting your style. Calling yourself an artist will demand attention from others and open the door for them to see what you have to offer.

What are other terms preventing our growth as creatives?

Maneuvering Millennials: How to Navigate Your Office Space

Being a millennial in ANY office space can be intimidating. Do I say good morning to everyone? How awkward is this conversation I’m having by the water cooler? Does everyone think I’m ‘young and dumb’? Will every mistake I make be blamed on my age?

Just thinking about it is enough to give anyone anxiety. Of course, I’ll give you a few tips (and funny gifs) to lighten the load. 

1. Communicate how it will benefit the organization (not just your department):

Opinion

If you’re willing to bring ideas to the table (or bring the whole table), you should analyze how the organization will benefit from it. Sometimes if the group is stuck in traditional ways, showing them the benefit of your strategy to the organization will give you a better chance of succeeding.

2. Shaking your fear of interpersonal relationships:

Friend

I’m an introvert at heart, but working in communications leaves no room for me to be an introvert at work. I have to open my mouth, get to know my coworkers, communicate about projects/assignments, and an endless list of more things. How to break that barrier? Go out to lunch with that coworker, get someone’s input on a personal project, participate in occasional small talk (it helps). Learning your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your coworkers, will benefit your work life vastly. You can only maneuver what you’ve mastered!

You can only maneuver what you’ve mastered!

3. Clearly defining projects + deadlines:

Hardest

When you’re multi-talented in the workplace you may get pulled in many directions. This can result in projects piling up. This is not intimidating if you know what they entail and when they’re due. I’ve had experience with taking on design projects and never asking expectations or due dates. This resulted in tons of frustration and pressure between management and I. Currently, I don’t touch a project until I have resources + expectations + a deadline. With guidelines put in place, you can effectively create.

4. Speaking up:

If you’re apart of an organization that asks for your feedback, GIVE IT! When I began my postgraduate career, I would die inside anytime I was expected to give my opinion. Now, if I feel as though I’m not given the proper resources or I’m running into walls trying to do what’s expected of me, I speak up. A quick chat with your manager/supervisor/mentor can make all the difference. Maybe they didn’t know of your current issue and can easily resolve it. See how speaking up (professionally and appropriately) can help you breathe a little?

As a millennial, what are some ways you’ve learned to navigate the office space? As a seasoned professional, what can us as millennials do better?

Photo/gif credit = Giphy + Unsplash

New Year, Now What? What Each Communication Pro Should Do Before The New Year

As the year is quickly coming to an end (yay!), now is the perfect time to reflect on everything you accomplished (or didn’t) this year. What was your biggest lesson? What challenges did you face in your career? Did you make any valuable contacts? How could you have pitched that client differently?

Although we love to bathe ourselves in accomplishments, analyzing what we did wrong will make for a great 2017. [Check out this book I’m reading about learned lessons in the workplace] Here are a few action items to consider before the new year.

  • Send a quick thank-you note to anyone who made a positive impact on your year.

Met someone at a networking event that inspired you? Got a new job and your old supervisor showed support through the transitioning process? Write a quick handwritten thank-you note explaining your gratitude for their support. After all, we seem to forget that no one owes us anything. If someone goes out of their way for you, go out of your way for them. Thanking them and staying in touch keeps a valuable connection in your back pocket! 

  • Revamp your personal brand. 

Take a look at each of your social media profiles and evaluate your personal brand. Is it communicating your message effectively? Did you keep up with maintaining each platform? If not, figure out a time management schedule for the New Year where you “check in” and do updates as needed. Show your expertise on your social profiles and participate in events, like Twitter chats, to connect with like-minded professionals! Also, make sure your profiles are a true reflection of YOU. There’s nothing better than a professional with a great personality!  

  • Evaluate social commitments. 

If you’ve joined 5 organizations and have only seen 2 as beneficial then it's time to evaluate your commitment. Yes, those social mixers may be fun, but think of the time you could put into activities like personal projects. Also, seek out organizations and groups that you didn’t give a chance this year. Attend an event or informational. You may be surprised! Plus: Most organizations have a fee for membership. Be financially conscious when considering rejoining!

  • Organize your personal files. (Digital and Physical)

Now is a great time to get all your paperwork organized (tax season is around the corner!) Also, I make an effort to clean up my MacBook. I sort through my desktop icons and I organize all my folders. Delete any old files and strategically place all your files where they should be. When your spaces are clear your mind will follow.

When your spaces are clear your mind will follow.
  • Write a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ list.

This is my personal favorite. Pull out your favorite journal and mark one page yes and another page no. This is basically housekeeping for your entire year. What worked and WHY did it work? What didn’t work and WHY didn’t it work? If it didn’t work, what can you do to make it work next year? There’s no better feeling than physically seeing it written and preparing for growth.

Now it's time to enjoy a few glasses of champagne in the company of some great folks. See you in the New Year 🎉