Two of my favourite mottos: ‘As one door closes another one opens’ and, ‘Onwards and upwards’. But, let’s be honest, often it takes the power of hindsight to really appreciate their powerful meaning, especially after facing redundancy.
Learning to feel good again after redundancy
In this blog I reflect on my journey through redundancy hell to building my personal brand, and some of the struggles and valuable learnings along the way.
If you know me, it’s no secret that I’m an advocate of knowing what you stand for and showing your personality on social media.
I want to share with you how carving out my own personal brand transformed my business Lollipop Social, and how you can achieve the same success.
Redundancy made me feel rubbish. I had enjoyed my marketing director role, overseeing some fabulous projects, teams and agencies.
But all of this joy and success couldn’t keep me in a job that couldn’t offer an ounce of flexibility (working 4 to 4 ½ days rather than full-time).
I don’t talk about this often but I actually had a tough time becoming a mum. This left me with a determination to enjoy my son growing up, rather than having to rush from one board meeting, team performance review or major exhibition to the next.
So, at the age of 39, when I felt I had it all figured out, I needed to reinvent myself to secure a better career and life-work balance.
Boy did I feel up to this challenge?
Yes and no?! My aspiration was to create opportunities to work on something I loved, make more money for less of my time, building on my extensive marketing experience and network. Sounds good right?
But it was an uphill battle. You just need to trawl through the major job boards to realise that not many companies offer senior positions with some level of flexibility.
So, I found myself stuck. And one thought which frustrated me was that I didn’t feel that it was fair to accept a more junior marketing position just because I needed some flexibility as a working mum.
Some of you might already know I come from former Eastern Germany, where we were masters of overcoming obstacles in a rather efficient way.
In my family we didn’t moan about all the things we couldn’t have (like Barbie dolls, Nike trainers, fancy cars – my family had a 20 year old Trabbant) and things we couldn’t do (like travelling to exotic holiday destinations), we just rolled up our sleeves and found alternatives.
So, whilst redundancy felt like a huge rejection and being constantly tired looking after a toddler, I decided to not be beaten by the system (which doesn’t really support working mums) but to reinvent myself and to go it alone.
What was the worst that could happen? If I didn’t like being a solopreneur, I could always go back to finding a corporate role.
Learning how to master DIY social media at 39
So, why did I have to ‘learn how to DIY social media’ at the age of 39? And why was it so scary?
Despite a first class degree in marketing, Chartered Marketer status and years of marketing experience for some world leading brands, my remit was directing agencies to deliver great social media for the businesses I was working for – not doing it myself.
I worked in companies where everything was done with support from great marketing agencies. We had brand guidelines and instructions on what we could comment on (which I had written as the marketing director).
Now I found myself with a brand new business and no budget to outsource anything – all part and parcel of a startup.
Confidence was also an issue. Redundancy makes you doubt everything. I constantly asked myself, “Am I really good enough to go it alone?”
The thought of creating a LinkedIn profile for myself that could sell me as a brand terrified me.
So how do you ‘learn’ social media when you feel like hiding?
I was used to happily hide behind corporate brand guidelines. After all this is what you do as a marketing director – you’re the champion of your company’s brand.
My opinion on social was what they wanted to promote, whether it was an event, a new product launch or talking about a client meeting, but I didn’t actually have to actively use social media myself.
It didn’t even require me having to use my own voice, we usually shared ‘things to share on social’ across all our teams.
DIY social media and having my own voice was totally out of my comfort zone but I had to learn, and quick.
How I turbocharged my social media and entrepreneurial learning
I believe by the time you hit 39, you know your preferred learning style and for me it’s a mixture of:
- Learning the theory with lots of opportunities for doing
- Accountability with a business coach and like-minded people to help me get things done
- Being able to discuss new learnings and ask for help (support is really high on my list)
Knowing this, I realised that free online courses wouldn’t work for me. So I researched the market and I invested in some of my redundancy money in an award-winning course offered by Digital Mums. I always invested into my professional development over the years, and I decided early on this was a worthwhile business expense. Here you see a picture of me as a finalist for ‘Best Social Media Freelancer’ at the Social Media Marketing Awards.
Signing up for a course gave my confidence a much needed boost. The minute I got accepted onto the programme, my interviews were more successful as I’d achieved a positive mind-set change. The ‘old Nicole’ was finally reemerging! I went from feeling totally overwhelmed to, “I’m doing something about this, aren’t I fabulous?! You’re lucky to get me!”
OK, so maybe I didn’t completely feel like this… even with this fancy course under my belt, I really felt like wanting to hide away. Questions which troubled me, were:
- Would my old colleagues judge me if I stood out on social?
- How can I find my own voice and not look douchey?
- I’m new to being a marketing and social media consultant – would this show?
So what did I do next and can you do the same?
- I hired a business coach to push me further out of my comfort zone.
- I began meeting other budding entrepreneurs at events like Social Media Day, MarketEdLive, Atomicon and Youpreneur Summit. I asked lots of questions, listened and actioned learnings.
- I invested in additional courses and memberships and as soon as I could afford it, I started outsourcing. I now have a fantastic team helping me to run and promote my business.
- I worked on my own personal branding homework to create my personal brand values which have shaped my content marketing ever since.
5 tips to help you build your personal brand after redundancy
- If you’re finding it difficult to sell yourself (and most of us do), simply start by creating your personal brand values. These will reveal what makes you different – a much easier sell. This blog will show you how to create personal brand values in 3 easy steps.
- Approach former colleagues and clients and asked why they liked working with you – this will instantly make you feel better.
- Invest in yourself, sometimes it’s hard operating outside your comfort zone, so surround yourself by people who can help you stretch your goals, think big and also encourage you to face something ‘scary’ every week.
- Don’t underestimate the importance and value of skills you already have. When you’ve got a new business it’s so easy to undercharge because you feel inexperienced. So don’t forget people also buy access to all your work and life experience to date!
- When you have the opportunity, support people in your network who have faced redundancy. Write them a LinkedIn recommendation and ask what kind of opportunities they’re looking for. Spread the word.
How can I help you on your personal brand journey?
Are you looking to fast-track your results online with the help of a coach?
I’m excited to launch my new 1:1 Wunderstar coaching programme this spring for people who want to increase their visibility on social and get better results online for themselves and their new businesses. Wouldn’t it be great if you felt at ease updating your LinkedIn profile and connecting with the kind of people who could help with your next career move?
With my enthusiasm for personal branding and social media and my German Mrs Motivator style, I can help you learn the skills to get results online fast – to be noticed by the right people and actually to start enjoy having your own voice. Sign up here but hurry, there are only 2 spaces remaining for the first intake this spring.
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