The holidays are a fantastic time to look back on the year, celebrate our accomplishments, and reflect on areas of improvement. However, when the season is through, we’re met with the new year—often abruptly, as it can be easy to forget about the near future amidst the hectic holidays. So, before you let the last few days of 2014 get away from you; take some time to assess your personal brand: how do others perceive your professional image? Are you being effective in your networking attempts, or are there areas for improvement? Especially if you plan on job searching in January, the holidays are the perfect time to assess your personal branding strategies before the January hiring rush begins.
Even if you aren’t planning on actively searching, there is always room for improvement—regardless of how diligently you’ve branded yourself this year; after all, you never know when a great opportunity will come your way. The following are a number of goals to tackle over the final days of 2014 that are sure to get your personal brand into gear for the new year:
1) A Redefined Image. Look back on what you have achieved this year. Have your accomplishments lined up with your goals thus far? Whether the answer is yes or no, consider revamping the message of your brand by creating an elevator pitch (or reworking your current one). Having to relay your brand in such a short snippet of time forces you to get down to the bare bones of your image and how you want to be perceived, and can often help you redefine current goals and establish new ones. As an added bonus, you’ll have an updated pitch ready to go for any possible networking opportunities at all those holiday parties.
2) Resolutions for the New Year. Forging new goals is a great way to round off the year and begin anew. With 2015 in mind, take some time this holiday season to establish concrete, measurable goals that will keep you on track for the new year. Ensuring that your goals are detailed (for example, “make X new connections by 2016” rather than “improve my networking tactics”) can help you measure your progress throughout the next 12 months, gauge the effectiveness of your current methods, and create new strategies for success.
3) A New Face on Social Media. The internet is a vast area to cover when attempting to reach potential employers and professional connections of interest. To cast your brand’s web a bit further, try out a new social media platform—maybe one that isn’t as expected in your field (like LinkedIn or Facebook) or that others may not yet have tapped into (such as Instagram or Tumblr). Finding a creative way to build your brand on a platform that isn’t typically utilized in your field can establish you as a creative and adaptable thinker, in addition to creating a whole new source for connections.
4) A Cheerful Message. By sending your contacts a jovial professional message to wish them a happy holiday, you can achieve a number of beneficial perks. Firstly, you’ll be reminding them of you and your brand; in today’s busy times, even the most memorable can go forgotten when out of sight. Second, you’ll be reinforcing your values by spreading the holiday cheer and making an effort to reconnect. Networking is one of the best things you can do for your career, and by doing it well, you can show a lot about yourself as a professional and even garner new opportunities as a result.
While it may be the last thing you want to do as we tick down the days to our New Year’s Eve celebrations, taking the extra time to prepare your brand for the year ahead will only improve your chances of success. It’s best to make these changes now, before January, when you’ll have to hit the ground running with whatever your 2015 goals are.