Adam Kiefaber is an experienced communicator, who has led PR teams for Fortune 500 companies in payments and financial services. Previously, he spent nearly 10 years as a journalist working for The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Cincinnati Post and CNN.
I got some shocking news recently.
After only six months on the job, I was called into a surprise meeting and told that my position was being eliminated as part of an organizational restructure.
Once I got over the initial shock, I knew that I was going to have to engage in the brand building tactics that I have helped others with as a corporate communicator and executive communications leader. The only difference – I was going to have to build this strategic plan for myself.
As with any big project I tackle, I wanted to find the top expert on the topic to make sure I was on the right path and position myself to help others in the same situation.
So, I reached out to Abhijit Bhaduri, who with a very popular career-focused newsletter and 800,000 followers on LinkedIn is one of the world’s top experts on building skills. Abhijit has also led HR teams at Microsoft, Wipro, Pepsico and Colgate and is a best-selling author.
It was a great time to connect, as his new book “Career 3.0: Six Skills You Must Have to Succeed” published on Nov. 27. The book suggests that careers were designed for 75-year life spans, but skills now become obsolete in 4-5 years. And how combining skills – and developing new ones – is a powerful way of creating new opportunities.
In discussing how these skills could help a communicator like me, Bhaduri shared the following:
To build a skill, start practicing it
In 2005, a week before Bhaduri’s first book “Mediocre but Arrogant” (a tongue in cheek reference to MBAs) was to be published, he was told that he needed to blog to support the launch. Blogging was still a foreign concept for most people. Bhaduri started a blog and wondered what he should do next.
“I honestly thought I was supposed to post my manuscript on this thing called a blog,” Bhaduri said. “I literally posted the entire book and my publisher called, and yelled, ‘what are you doing?’ I told him I was blogging, and he responded, ‘that is not how you blog!’ … I had to immediately take it down.”
Despite his unfortunate start in blogging, Bhaduri kept with it. His audience grew and he was getting noticed, eventually being asked to regularly contribute to publications like The Economic Times and The Times of India.
As LinkedIn became popular, Bhaduri started putting his content there. His audience grew quickly as more and more people became aware of his expertise. Writing has been central to building his personal brand.
“When I went solo, it helped me get discovered,” Bhaduri said. “You can be the best doctor or the best plumber, or the top communications expert, but how would anyone know that? A company doesn’t really start to grow until there is trust – the same applies to your brand.”
Writing to create value for others
Early on in his writing journey, Bhaduri was asked to categorize what he writes about. After some thought, he simply stated that he writes about “work, workers and workplaces.”
Writing about what you know or even what you are learning can create value for others. When you create value, you can build a community that benefits from your ideas.
“Storytelling is a superpower that can simplify information and turn it into something memorable,” Bhaduri said. “And if you can educate, entertain and tell great stories – then you have created your niche.”
Creators also build trust through consistency, Bhaduri said. For example, Bhaduri referenced a podcast that he listens to. He knows that every Tuesday morning there will be a new episode – and with that level of consistency, he and the rest of the podcast’s audience will keep coming back.
Being yourself sets you apart
When it comes to writing about “work, workers and workplaces,” there are many other thought leaders out there.
What sets Bhaduri apart is his experience in the field, as well as the fact that he loves to draw sketchnotes – a way of illustrating an idea with a few words and illustrations. With that passion, Bhaduri illustrates each of his posts.
“I have taken my experience in talent management and leadership development, as well as brought in my illustrations, and that has given me uniqueness,” Bhaduri said. “I also really enjoy it and I know that I get better with each post.”
When determining how you can be unique, Bhaduri used the example of a business card. He said a business card typically would focus on the company, but said that you should ask yourself, “what would you write on it to describe yourself?”
To do it right, you should identify things that differentiate yourself, he said. To practice, Bhaduri shared the following:
- Think of a short phrase that tells what you do differently from others.
- How can you describe your work in a few words that stand out?
- Write a catchy and unique slogan for your job.
- What makes your work special in 3-4 words?
Once you know how to answer the above – determine how you can provide value to others, find the right platform, start creating content and do it consistently.
The result will make you stand out in your field.
And —you never know —what opportunities it may create.