Second Silent Career Killer: Not Having a Personal Brand
Have you ever wondered what your coworkers think of you?
What about your boss?
If you work in a B2B company, as I do, you may have a group of stakeholders you work with daily. Do you know how they perceive you and your work?
“Why?” you ask. “Who cares what people think of me, I’m my own person. I’m unique.”
If you don’t know how you’re viewed, you are in trouble, deep trouble with a capital “T,” as my mother used to say.
In fact, you could be quickly on your way to damaging your career at your current company by neglecting one critical, vital component.
Your personal brand.
Your brand is what people think of you and what it is that you are known for.
Now, a lot is written about personal branding, much aimed at marketers and executives. But guess what? It is important for every employee at a company – from the mail room clerk to the CEO.
You need to know how you are PERCEIVED at your company, because PERCEPTION IS REALITY, fair or unfair, and that becomes your personal brand.
Are you known as the person that is the “Excel Wizard?” The “Creative Employee,” “PowerPoint Expert” or the “Technical Specialist?” Maybe you are the “Operational Guru” the “Executive Whisperer,” or simply the “Person Who Knows How to Make Things Happen.”
When I was a marketing manager back in Chicago I was known as the “Person Who Could Get Things Done and Make Projects Happen.” If someone had an impossible project and had no idea how to make it work or where to start, they knew to give it to me and I would put together an action plan, find the right resources and the creative hook to grab audience interest and make it happen. That was my brand; I could “Make it Happen.”
Now not every personal brand is good.
If you don’t pay attention to your brand, you might not realize what your colleagues and stakeholders REALLY think of you.
You could be thought of as the “Department Complainer,” the “Slacker,” the “Office Micro-Manager,” the “Executive Penny-Pincher,” Or the “Employee Who is Technically Good But Talks About Their Personal Life Too Much.”
What you don’t know CAN KILL YOUR CAREER at your current company.
So my question to you: do you know what your personal brand is?
If you don’t know what it is you are known for, it is time to take ownership of your brand!
How? The good news is that there are a ton of books and articles out there you can dive into to learn about the topic.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Check with your HR department to see if they offer a 360 assessment survey.
“What? You want me to actually find out what people think of me? No way!” you say. YES! It is incredibly helpful because they identify what perceptions your boss(es), employees and colleagues have in their interactions with you. This is very valuable information when determining what your current personal brand is, as well as determining how to better communicate with the people you work with at your company. If your HR department doesn’t offer the survey, a free online tool, SelfStir offers a great 360 assessment. I encourage you to use it to not only help with your personal brand, but your overall career relationships.
2. Create a Brand Statement for yourself.
In a few words, what captures you and your abilities that you want to be known for. Such as, “Trusted Marketer with Crazy Design Skills.” “Organized Accountant with Long-time International Tax Clients.” “Innovative Social CRM Connector.” What is the headline that captures you? That is your Brand Statement. Here are a few helpful sites: How to Craft Your Personal Brand Statement, Personal Branding Statement
3. Create an Elevator Speech for yourself and practice it so it is ready to go.
I use the method of putting everything on index cards and flipping through them until I am comfortable enough with the 30- and 60-second version of who I am and what it is I do. It is OK to show your personality a bit in your Elevator Speech, so if you are funny, be funny, but don’t cross the line. Be original and practice until you can do it in your sleep. How to Create Memorable Elevator Pitch
4. Analyze your web presence and take ownership of it.
If you haven’t already worked on your online “persona” it is not too late to start. There are many different online tools out there where you can develop an online presence for a few hours a week.
- LinkedIn is the perfect place to get involved, build out your profile, join groups and comment in the sections.
- Look for the online publications for the professional organizations you belong to and join the groups to comment and share as part of your membership.
- If you are building out your expertise but don’t have time for blogging, try curating – using a service such as Scoop.it is great. This and similar applications let you comment on articles in your industry and service line and use it to create a blog or newsletter easily.
Now it is a few cities, jobs and years later in my career, and I’m still the “Make it Happen” person. I’ve also acquired a few more brand statements along the way. But it takes hard work and patience developing and maintaining a personal brand.
Start with your brand statement and elevator speech.
How do you want people to think of you?
Put it into practice.