I am an international social entrepreneur, executive coach, educator, and speaker, and I help purpose-driven leaders and organizations worldwide to clarify, develop, and share their stories for maximum impact. I am excited to help you clarify your purpose, develop your story (which serves as the basis for your personal brand), and show you how to share that story across digital platforms, to attract the opportunities that are most aligned with your purpose. Everything I will share with you is based on my own journey.

Early in my career, I worked as a tech marketer and then as a management consultant, and later, I became a social entrepreneur and educator helping organizations in the social sector to leverage digital storytelling and fundraising. Still later, I worked as an international nonprofit executive seeking to attract support for an organization serving young people in South Africa’s townships. In that role, I discovered answers to the questions, “What is my purpose?” and “Can I earn a paycheck in a way that enables me to fulfil that purpose?” Most recently, I have been helping others to discover their own answers to those questions.

The frequency with which individuals exhibit burnout or rapidly declining motivation in their chosen careers suggests that there is very often a misalignment between purpose and work in our society. Perhaps people are making important professional choices based on pressure to conform to peer group expectations or based on messages drawn from social media. Surely they are also making choices based on the perceived prestige of certain organizations and occupations. These major life decisions, whatever their basis, are often not simply not working out as intended. 

Meanwhile, the economic effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have offered, for many of us, a chance to re-evaluate the purpose and vision that motivates us. As we continue to recover economically from the pandemic, an opportunity is presented to us to connect work to purpose, to revive our connection to our current roles, to pivot toward new careers, and to build new networks of professional relationships. A strong personal brand can be extremely helpful if one is to take advantage of such an opportunity. A strong brand, accompanied by a clear professional story, enables us to connect with donors, employers, clients, and customers who share our goals and our vision. 

Additionally, owning one’s professional narrative to advance in one’s nonprofit career requires clarity about one’s purpose, strengths, and goals told through consistent messaging across all digital storytelling platforms and content that authentically demonstrate alignment between one’s personal brand and one’s target audience. Professionals who do this will attract well-aligned opportunities that lead to true success. 

The Liz Ngonzi Transforms ICAT ( Inspire, Connect, Activate, and Transform) Framework

On Thursday, October 28, I will present a webinar with Candid that introduces the Liz Ngonzi Transforms ICAT ( Inspire, Connect, Activate, and Transform) Framework for personal branding, consisting of the following elements:

  • Inspire: Inspiration can be found by reflecting on your purpose, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, taking stock of the skills and talents that you have as well as ones that you need to acquire.
  • Connect: After gaining inspiration through self-reflection, you must develop a professional story that will allow you to form connections with your professional network.
  • Activate: Your network is activated when you share your professional story with members of the network—particularly those who are aligned with the purpose articulated in your story—through a variety of carefully chosen digital platforms.
  • Transform: When the preceding steps have been implemented, you are in a position to achieve the desired alignment between your vision and your professional situation.

The Liz Ngonzi Transforms Storytelling Framework

The professional story is at the center of the personal branding process. In framing one’s story, one should take care to include each of the following elements, which I will review with you:

  • Problem: Identify the specific problem you solve for your stakeholders.
  • Solution: Define the unique ways in which you solve the identified problem for your stakeholders.
  • Impact: Explain why your solution matters to your stakeholders and to their own stakeholders.
  • Ask: Determine what you want your stakeholders to do after hearing your story.

Finally, the most crucial part of building a digital brand is understanding one’s digital storytelling ecosystem—meaning the communication platforms to be utilized (e.g., organizational or personal website, LinkedIn profile, email signature, biographical sketch, resume, etc.) and the target audience. The presentation of a story on a digital platform may be your only opportunity to interact with a funder, supporter, potential employer, or other partner/collaborator, and that presentation must therefore be carefully planned and executed.

The two frameworks outlined above are initial steps that can help individuals to develop a strong personal digital brand, which can contribute to their success in reviving their careers, attracting a new job opportunity, or pivoting to new careers. I know you may currently feel overwhelmed about what to do next, but I want you to know that these career issues can be addressed and overcome and that I’m looking forward to helping you with them. For now I will leave you with my favorite quote from Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” To learn more, please register for the October 28 webinar, “Find Nonprofit Career Success With Strong Personal Digital Branding.”

About the Author(s)

Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi, MMH (she/her) Founder / CEO, The International Social Institute™ | Adjunct Assistant Professor, The Center for Global Affairs at New York University

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