One of the challenges of deciding to take a career in a different direction is that it can be hard to reinvent yourself. Your reputation is likely a large part of your career, and people know you for who you are and what you have done. They probably don't have insight of your aspirations for the future and your desire to apply your talents in a different way. So how do you manage to work your way through change and transition to a new way of working, when people think of you as who you were and not who you plan to become?
The responsibility for all of this sits firmly with you. The route to success is building a personal brand that clearly demonstrates what you stand for, what you are seeking and the value that you want to add. Changing perceptions of others will therefore depend on the quality of your online and offline marketing. You may have a perfectly crafted CV and clearly defined thoughts on what you want to do, but the next vital step is to transmit all of this to the outside world, making the most of the avenues open to you.
It is very rare to come across a business person who does not have a presence of some kind on LinkedIn. As it is often the first thing to show up about you on a Google search, how confident are you about the message that it will send? You may think that the biggest challenge is ensuring that your profile is accurate, but that is just the starting point. Engaging and participating in the right kind of communities will get you noticed and will increase your visibility. Join groups, comment on blogs, start a debate - these are all powerful ways to send the message about who you are. If you are planning to develop a portfolio career as either a non-executive director or a consultant, or even a combination of both, then make sure that your views, reflections, thoughts or questions appear in discussion groups. You will grow connections with entirely new circles and you will be part of a vibrant community that will be supportive and helpful as you navigate your way through unknown territories.
Although developing a portfolio can feel like quite a lonely task sometimes, you can transform this by making your online life work for you. Developing new skills and new knowledge will be an inevitable part of your personal growth and the LinkedIn communities are very generous in sharing information. Be part of them and make sure that you share your expertise as well. This reciprocity will work well for you and the extension of your network will open up more opportunities.
It is a well known fact that new roles are more likely to be found by people who have an extensive network, so invest in your online identity and discover the opportunities that otherwise could pass by unnoticed.
Update, 19 June, 5.45pm
Update, 18 October, 5pm
It is important to follow up the process of developing your personal brand by continuing to further evolve and adapt your personal brand with your business identity, and to best meet your needs. If your industry shifts, reflecting pertinent changes can be a valuable tool in both your marketing and advertising arsenal, and championing your ability to be current, relevant and knowledgeable.
It's also very important to remember that your customer, client and potential employer's tastes will likely change with time, just as something like fashion or design does. It is very rare that someone's personal taste or requirements will remain stagnant as the world changes around them.