Personal branding can be a great way to differentiate yourself as a leader.
Are you a leader? This is a loaded question, which is often asked in performance reviews and promotions meetings around the world. It is important to know how your position in the organization and your field are perceived if you want to advance in your career. Your boss, and your boss’ boss, are often too busy to take the time to recognize and cultivate your talents. You must make sure that they are aware of who you really are and what your capabilities are.
The problem is that we cannot (and wouldn’t want to) simply launch into a self-congratulatory monologue on our abilities and skills. We need to make sure others get the right message about ourselves. Some people are concerned that the term “personal branding” (popularized following a 1997 Fast Company cover story) implies lack of authenticity and a desire to “market yourself” to the point where artifice is possible. This is not the issue. Personal branding is not a term that describes your professional reputation. It is something most professionals agree is crucial to their success in the future. Strategically thinking about your personal branding means taking control of your reputation to ensure it reflects who and what you are.
Personal branding is different depending on the culture. However, in every country, it is important for professionals to be able to see themselves and to make changes if necessary to ensure that their talents are fully understood.
It is important to be clear about what message you want to convey. People often confuse your personal brand with the “elevator pitch”, which is a short, concise statement that summarizes who you are in 10 seconds.
This is just one aspect of your personal brand. However, your brand encompasses many other elements. People look at your appearance, your speech, your friends, your affiliations, your charity support, your blog and the topics you discuss.
This means that your personal brand is more than something you tell people. It is something you live every day. You can’t keep being phony over time, even if you want to. It is better to identify what makes you unique and powerful and to use that information to your professional advantage. Headshot photos will give you the advantage in online situations where many of a leader’s first interactions take place.
Executives should start by asking a few of their friends and colleagues to help them decide: What three words would you use to describe yourself? This allows people to be focused and list only the most important aspects of themselves. You’ll start to notice patterns in your conversations with others that could be very helpful. Alisa Cohn, executive coach and mentor, told me that it is important to identify the words you hear that match the meaning of the words. Cohn says that people may describe you as ‘intelligent, methodical, and nice’. However, while those terms aren’t bad, they won’t get you into the C-suite.
The right brand for you
Next, consider how your brand overlaps with the brand of your company. They may find it a great fit, you are innovative, and they are innovative.
Most often, however, we share elements with the company’s brand but diverge in others. It is helpful to look at it as a Venn Diagram. Find the areas where you overlap, and highlight those. This will help you to succeed professionally. Interview with a senior executive from a large company about how to be a respected expert in your field. He said that many of the people in the company’s leadership come from engineering backgrounds and see things in a systematic, process-based manner. This is not me. “I have a rebel streak in me. I realized that my natural brand didn’t fit. But it had to be me. What were the things that we could all agree on? He knew that we could all agree on the results. So he made it a point to talk about his work as a result-driven leader and emphasized his brand’s importance. He says, “I have had to actively manage and maintain my brand – to understand what it is and be aware of it.” He’s had great success in the company as a result.
Demonstrate the brand
It is crucial to show your brand. It is important to use surprise, especially if you are “rebranding” and want to change people’s perceptions of you. Volunteer to help with a project that demonstrates new skills or starts a new initiative. Sign up to a language class, or join the diversity committee if you want to be recognized as a global leader. You can show your interest in others by being proactive.
It is also important to create content. You can create a blog on your own using free software such as WordPress. Most companies will also love it if you help with writing posts. There are many options for you, even if writing is something that you hate. It’s all about your ideas and not the format. It is possible to create podcasts and video blogs using the software available on your smartphone. Many corporate marketing departments have staff who will gladly assist you if you are interested. Content creation is a powerful way for you to show your expertise. Instead of citing other “experts”, people will start to cite you and the information they have read on your blog or heard on your podcast. It is extremely powerful to be able say, “I just wrote about this; let me give you a link.”
Networking is the best way to spread your brand’s image as a leader in your company. It’s not about going to “networking events”, or trading business cards. It is about breaking free from the ruts we often fall into as professionals. Many people have lunch with the exact same people all the time and often talk to the same colleagues. This is a common mistake. Even something as simple as inviting one person from a different department to lunch every week can make a huge difference in your ability to connect with others, learn about opportunities, and access best practices. It doesn’t have the same feeling of being overwhelmed by glad-handing. Instead, networking is about staying open to new opportunities and keeping your connections alive. It is essential to network with your colleagues if you want your career to continue moving forward. Personal branding can be a powerful tool to make yourself known as a leader. It is the best form of authenticity. When done correctly, it can help you to make your value clear and draw people to you. These strategies are the best form of career insurance that you can invest in.