Right now, I’m in the middle of relocating from the mountains of Italy to Sardinia for the summer.
Every year, my little family makes the seachange so we can soak up the sunshine after a long, snowy winter.
The ability to do this was my partner’s longtime dream — and needless to say, I was happy to go along with it!
While I was getting ready for the move, I started thinking about dreaming and how it’s part of the human condition.
It’s what motivates us and drives us towards what we want in the future.
And we have the power to turn our dreams into reality. We really do!
Just the other day, I had an interesting chat with a young girl who is also heading to Sardinia to work in a local restaurant.
Last year, she holidayed there and fell in love with it (but not with the guy she’d gone there to see!). After her two-week stay, she was really sad to leave.
She told herself: “I want to go back and live in Sardinia next summer.”
She couldn’t stop thinking about it, so she began hatching a plan — though she didn’t know it at the time.
She knew she needed a job to live there. So, she began reaching out to acquaintances, and asking them if they knew of any opportunities — or knew of anyone who would.
She was networking from the mainland!
She collected more and more contacts. And she also stepped up her game in her current job — so that if anyone called her boss, they’d rave about how she was a good waitress.
This is personal branding at its best.
All her hard work paid off! She was introduced to the owner of a popular Sardinian restaurant and secured a job for the summer.
How happy do you think she is knowing her dream came true?! (And not just because she gets to spend the best time of year on the most beautiful stretch of coastline!)
Here’s the best bit: The technique she used can help to make ANY career dream happen. We can break it down into three actionable steps.
The 3 crucial steps
Step 1: Get clear on what you want.
By identifying what you want, you’ll also figure out who or what you need to know.
You’ve heard the saying a million times before, but it’s worth repeating here. In some industries, it really is all about who you know. You have to get in front of the right people.
Now, that’s not to say that you can’t get your dream career without any contacts — but it’ll take longer, or be a more challenging process than it has to be.
If you can learn to be comfortable and confident with networking and promoting yourself, it will propel your career forward in a BIG way. And if you’re not sure how to go about this, work through my Connect with Confidence worksheet.
As for what to know, start by thinking about any gaps in your knowledge or skill set. Then, figure out how you can address them. This might involve taking a course, listening to an online webinar, or asking for more training at work, and so on.
If you do have gaps in your skillset, that’s okay. If you can tell people the steps you are taking to fill those gaps, that shows you’re proactive about learning and developing a skill — which is what potential employers love to see.
Step 2: Make the right connections
Once you know who you need on your side, you can work out how and where to start connecting with them.
If you have friends and family in the industry, ask them — and reach out to acquaintances to see if there’s anyone in their networks they can introduce you to. A simple introduction can go a long way.
And if that doesn’t work — or you want to add more names to your list — head over to LinkedIn. This is the place to source contacts and build your brand. Think of it as the Yellow Pages on steroids. Along with names, it has job titles, descriptions and bios — and the who’s who of every industry is on there.
Before you start connecting with and messaging people, make sure your own profile is up to scratch. Remember, your LinkedIn profile functions as your digital resume, so you want to make sure it’s accurate and up to date.
If you want to know more about how to leverage LinkedIn to build your brand and network, check out my online course. It gives you the tools you need to do just that and future-proof your career.
Step 3: Build your reputation
You want to be known for the right reasons! So, along with polishing your skills and building your contact list, focus on solidifying your reputation — and making sure it’s a positive one.
In the cut-throat career world, your reputation is everything. If you can work on it now, you’ll be setting yourself up for success when you finally do connect with that industry leader/mentor/dream company.
Building your personal brand is the key to your career development and future-proofing your career — and even more so as we move into the post-pandemic job market.
If you’re familiar with my work, you know what I’m going to say!
The best place to build your brand and develop your network is LinkedIn. It starts with having a polished profile. Check out my free Perfect Your Profile Checklist to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward online.
In a nutshell? WHAT you know isn’t always enough. It’s about WHO you know and what you’re known FOR!
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be talking about this topic more delving into why creating a rock-solid reputation is key to making your dream career happen. So, stay tuned for that!
Why it’s important to dream on your own
At the beginning of this blog post, I mentioned how I got swept along in my partner’s dream. Luckily for me, this was a pretty awesome dream and I was happy to be part of his plan — on this occasion! 😉
But more often than not, when we become part of someone else’s dream, we realise what they have in mind for us ISN’T actually what we want for ourselves.
This is where having your own career development plan is crucial so that you aren’t relying on someone else, or waiting around for things to happen.
It’s full of ambitious people who are trying to do the exact same thing you are — which is making their career dreams come true!