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December 4th, 2010, I lost my job. I was relieved and terrified at the same time. Who wouldn’t be? We were emerging from one of the worst recessions in history, at least contemporary times and everyone was pretty bruised from the previous couple of years.

As I slogged through job descriptions, I found myself more and more dejected. There were some interesting jobs. However, I wasn’t excited to work anywhere. I realized that throughout my career I had interesting jobs where I learned a lot and gave a lot. I learned that people appreciated my ideas, strategies and wanted change in their organizations but that they weren’t ready for the messiness that change brings. I no longer wanted to be someone else’s change agent ( a term I now prefer never to use since it means your days are probably limited.)

It was at this moment I decided to create the workplace I wanted to work in and do the work I wanted to do. Building a business is not easy, and there’s been obstacles and opportunities to assess and navigate continually. It’s a journey I wouldn’t trade for any title or company in the world. It’s a journey of continual re-inventing, stretching and thinking beyond the status-quo. It’s taught me how to think about my personal brand, how not to give over my soul to social media and every task that comes my way, and find the place where living and business co-exist in a way that works for my family and me.

I share this because throughout any given week I talk with people who have successfully run businesses, have navigated loss and reinvention, are ready for their next career, aren’t ready to retire and find themselves woefully unprepared to maximize the opportunities that arise through personal branding and gathering and nurturing a network of colleagues, strategic partners, clients, neighbors etc.

Within three days last week, I had this conversation with six different people. It ranged from I just never paid attention to I didn’t think I needed to think this way and boy was I wrong. It’s okay just get onboard now. Is it late to the game? Yes. Is it too late to the game? No.

We have written exhaustively on this topic as so many others have and yet more people than not have just not taken action. Friends, what are you waiting for? None of this is new nor is it going away. And, it’s irrelevant if you like the idea. It’s about realizing you and your company will be left behind if you don’t act soon. One could make the argument; it may already be too late.

People expect to see you online. They expect to get to know something about you and your organization, and when they can’t, you miss an opportunity that may not come your way again.

If you see yourself in any of the following roles, consider how you will tackle your own reinvention or help others along this path as you begin a new year. To get started, look in the mirror (consider Google your online mirror), identify where you are and consider how to proceed.

You are a:

  • Senior executive or an individual who is private and prefers to be under the radar.
  • Senior executive or an individual who is private and prefers to be under the radar BUT you are thinking of making a significant change (i.e., starting a new company, new position, switching industries, writing a book, becoming a speaker)
  • Marketer or recruiter tasked with developing and managing your company’s digital initiative.

Since you are the face of your organization, you have a responsibility to show up and be visible, so candidates, prospects, and clients know who you are and why you’re the person leading the company.

  • Google yourself and assess what others see. Good? Not so good? Invisible?
  • Context is everything. Build your LinkedIn profile to ensure your profile best represents you and your company.
  • Spend ten minutes choosing how you want to interact on LinkedIn in your Settings & Privacy area.
  • Spend 15 minutes three times a week talking to people you know through LinkedIn and become familiar with how to use it. Interact with people you know.
  • Learn how to build your digital presence continually. To help you do that, we’ve built in:side, the easiest way for you to master LinkedIn once and for all.

This post isn’t for fifty or sixty plus folks only. It’s for everyone who works and has miscalculated the value of their own personal brand, ability to design a meaningful career and the power of LinkedIn to serve as the bridge for new opportunities. If you master the tips above, you will be well on your way to standing out in a noisy, chaotic world.