New Year’s Resolution: Update your professional brand in 2017

Deena Baikowitz

Chief Networking Officer and co-founder of Fireball Network



January 3, 2017

Is your professional brand ready for 2017?

It’s time to update your calendar and update yourself.

Human Resources and Learning & Development (L&D) professionals are taking on elevated roles and winning new seats at the C-Suite table. With this increased exposure and responsibility, it is critical to promote your professional brand within your organizations and industry. The start of a new year is the perfect time to update and upgrade your online and offline brand. Here are some fresh suggestions to keep you current and competitive.

Start with a self-assessment

Do an honest and thorough evaluation of your professional presence. Google yourself: what pops up first? A recent event you organized or an article from 15 years ago? Go beyond the basics: check the second and third search pages too. Then go beyond Google. Check your company bio, LinkedIn profile, alumni directory, speaker bio, and social media descriptions. Do they accurately reflect who you are professionally and personally today? Are they consistent? Don’t get stuck in time online, on paper, and in person. Your online profile should accurately communicate your most recent affiliations, organizations, accomplishments, and contact information. I am still surprised by how many professionals use Gmail accounts that list their college in the company field. Also remember to check your email—vague addresses like “frb212@gmail” keep you anonymous. Don’t hide. This is your time to shine.

Tell your unique story

Boring corporate bios are so last year. Generic job descriptions and cliché phrases are as blah and unremarkable as eggshell paint. Tell your audience and readers who you really are, and what you’re passionate about at work and outside of work. Your unique blend of skills, experience, and personality got you where you are today. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished, and let people know it. Show your professional network what makes you special, using stories, humor, and personal details. It’s time to tell your story.

Bring your network into the New Year

Your professional network is critical to your success. And it’s equally important to nurture your internal networks within your company and your external networks within your industry. Don’t waste the valuable connections you made last year by ignoring them. Every person you meet has something to offer, and you have something to offer everyone you meet. Take the time and effort to discover and build on those offerings. Create a networking calendar, with specific goals. Your goals might be to attend at least one industry networking event a month, make strategic introductions to six new people over cocktails, follow up with 4 people you met last month, or organize a quarterly lunch group. Networking isn’t about newsletters, empty conversation, or blank invitations to connect on LinkedIn. It’s about connecting, on a human level, person to person. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from a 15-minute phone call or a 30-minute meeting. Be curious. Set a goal each time you connect with someone to identify three things you have in common with that person. Those common items will help you develop and deepen your connections and relationships. It’s time to connect better.

Upgrade yourself

Great leaders lead by example: just as you encourage continuous learning for your teams, you should embrace self-improvement too. In particular, focus on honing the types of skills that matter at the C-Suite table, such as public speaking, negotiations, networking, and data analytics. Brush up on your own skills through accessible video-based online courses like those offered on Udemy—whether it’s Successful Negotiation, Powerful Public Speaking, or Introduction to Data Science. Get creative too. Unleash your spontaneous side by learning how to play the ukulele or take a cooking class like the Ultimate Cake-Baking Toolbox on Udemy. Soft skills are proven to be critical for success. Interpersonal skills such as presentation, networking, and communication skills will make the greatest impact in your career, your company and your industry in 2017 and beyond. It’s time to learn.

Take the time to properly evaluate, update, and promote your online and offline brand, and you’ll create wonderful new opportunities and relationships in 2017.

Deena Baikowitz, Chief Networking Officer and co-founder of Fireball Network, is a guest blogger on Udemy for Business. Her favorite expression is “I know someone you should meet! Let me introduce you.” Fireball Network is a boutique coaching, training, and consulting firm based in New York City. Fireball Network delivers dynamic business and career programs to help organizations and individuals build practical skills and powerful networks.

About Udemy for Business:

Udemy for Business is a learning platform that helps companies stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing workplace by offering fresh, relevant on-demand learning content, curated from the Udemy marketplace. Our mission is to help employees do whatever comes next—whether that’s the next project to do, skill to learn, or role to master. We’d love to partner with you on your employee development needs. Get in touch with us at

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