About a year ago, the folks at LinkedIn approached me with a question: How much daily time should career-minded professionals devote to managing their brand? How many “clock hours” does it really take to achieve those professional goals? It was a great question.
Before coming to me, they had done some research of their own, which revealed that most people think they need to devote 30 minutes or more each day. Who has that kind of free time to focus on personal branding? Unfortunately, because we believe we need to devote such a significant chunk of time, we end up devoting none.
So I embarked on my own research project to determine the minimum number of minutes you need to spend in order to make a significant impact. If the effort doesn’t seem onerous, you’re more likely to make it part of your daily routine. What I found might startle you.
The actual amount of daily time you need to spend working on your career – as opposed to working in your career – is just nine minutes.
Why nine minutes?
- Focus is fundamental. null Many educators and psychologists agree that the ability to focus one’s attention on a task is crucial for the achievement of one’s goals and that about 10 minutes is the amount of time we can focus before our mind starts to wander. But even 10 minutes (double digits and all) – still seemed like a big number. So I started to experiment with the number nine, and the results were dramatic:
- There’s a lot you can do in nine minutes. Before settling on the number nine, I looked at what can actually be accomplished in nine-minute bursts. There are thousands of career-building activities you can easily complete in that brief span. The ones you can’t complete so quickly can be broken into nine-minute milestones and achieved in successive days.
- It adds up. Nine minutes per weekday translates into 45 minutes a week, or roughly one full workweek each year. It’s like giving yourself a weeklong retreat dedicated to the brand called you!
- You likely have nine minutes. This brief but focused period eliminates the “I don’t have time for career management” excuse. When your career is important to you, you’ll null
Nine has a health benefit too! Career management isn’t worthwhile if it makes you feel pressured or adds to your stress level. Stress impedes success. Your nine-minute action will likely reduce stress because you can feel a sense of accomplishment without feeling guilt for taking time away from your “real” job. (Of course, you should think of building your brand as part of your real job.)
I knew I was onto something with nine minutes when I asked the amazing and prolific Dan Pink to review my new book, Ditch. Dare. Do! Of all the topics in the book, he decided to focus on the nine-minute plan in his testimonial. My corporate HR clients are equally sanguine because they know how busy their people are. They’re always looking for ways to help them do double duty, working on their career while working on their job.
So what kinds of actions can you complete in nine minutes? Here are my top nine:
- Update your LinkedIn status, letting your contacts know what you are up to or what your opinion is on a timely topic.
- Reach out to a former colleague or manager to reinforce your connection.
- Discover your brand color. Then use it in your personal communications, your email signature and your online profiles.
- Ask for feedback, recommendations and endorsements from managers, clients and other colleagues.
- Research thought-leaders in your area of expertise on the web and choose one or two to follow.
- Join a LinkedIn group and comment on a LinkedIn group post.
- Recommend and congratulate others in their careers, and send thank-you notes (written or email) to team members, colleagues and others who have made a significant contribution.
- Record your “Wins” for the week. Tracking all your successes will also keep you prepared for your annual performance review. Here’s a worksheet you can use to capture your wins.
- Write your 3D Brand Bio. This one will take a week’s worth of nine-minute actions:
Day 1: Get your current draft and decide what you want to keep.
Day 2: Identify what else you would like to include: values, passions, personality, (emphasizing the who not the what).
Day 3: Create a first draft.
Day 4: Test it, get feedback.
Day 5: Refine and upload as your LinkedIn summary to your corporate intranet and to other social media profiles.
If that isn’t enough to get you in the nine-minute mindset, here are some additional resources:
- Watch this fun video all about the number 9
- Join the 9-Minutes-a-Day LinkedIn group
- Use these 9 tips for making 9 minutes work for you
- Read the complete 9-Minute Manifesto
- Download the 9-Minute Infographic and post it somewhere you’ll see it very day
Reading this article counts as your nine minutes for today. What will you do with your nine minutes tomorrow?
Follow me on Twitter and check out my latest book, Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives.