Guest Post: What do you want to be known for?

Personal branding is all about marketing yourself.

I’m honored to be invited to blog on a topic I’m passionate about, but first a little background on my branding experience. As a graduate student, I co-founded the GW Certificate in Responsible Management in which students created personal blogs documenting their community service.  From this, I learned first-hand the impact that branding can have for a student, especially in a competitive job market.  I then went on to IBM where I helped a Partner develop a branding campaign using Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs.  This post provides lessons I’ve learned from these experiences and tips for improving your personal brand. 

Why is branding important? A strong personal brand sets you apart.  No matter what stage you are in your career, you will face competition.  Whether you’re applying for a promotion or new job (or even a new roommate!) having a strong brand will help you get ahead. A key point to remember is that branding is just as important for you in your current career as it is for your next, so don’t put it off until you are looking for a new opportunity.

The first step in personal branding is determining what your brand should be.  Do you want to be known as someone who can turn-around troubled projects?  Have you lived abroad and want to share your cross-cultural knowledge?  Think about what makes you unique.  What do colleagues come to you for help with?  What are you passionate about?  Identifying what you want your brand to be will help focus your efforts.

Remember, your personal brand is much more than your profession. Don’t limit yourself. “An employee who brands himself does not let his job title subsume him,” says one CEO. “He might be in accounting now, but I’ve stopped thinking of him as an accountant. I’ve come to think of him as a problem solver or a strategist. These people are identified more with the company’s goals than with any current slot in the organization.”

So, are you ready to start “being your own brand?”

  1. First, assess your current brand.  Google yourself.  What do you find? What does it say about you?  “Before anyone asks to see your resume, they’ll undoubtedly have checked you out on the web. What others say, true and false, is visible 24/7.  A Google search of your name is essentially the resume the world has created for you,” says executive job search consultant, Debra Feldman.
  2. Build your brand.  Identify places where conversations about your areas of expertise are already happening.  Volunteer, be authentic, and add value to the conversation.  For example, are you an experienced mentor or coach?  Then volunteer to be a guest blogger on a human capital blog such as “Human Capital League,” and share your expertise with others.
  3. Remember it’s a constant process.  Update your resume and online profiles regularly – You’ll want to include recent accomplishments and stay timely. Consistency is critical – it helps others to understand that you are dependable and focused, so no, there isn’t such a thing as being “done” with branding.

Thanks for reading.  Now for some personal branding… follow me on Twitter @Lisa_518 or connect on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/lisamanning/.

 

This post was written by Lisa Manning, Organizational Change Management & Social Media Consultant at IBM.

For Sale: Me! How to market yourself at work

Most of us get a bit shy when asked to talk about ourselves. Even completing year-end reviews can make us feel like we’re gloating. But in today’s world of “personal branding,” progressing your career, no matter what your profession, requires marketing yourself.

Become a go-to person: The first step is to be someone worth bragging about.

  • Start by assessing your personal strengths and weaknesses. What are your skills and interests, and how do they relay into your job? Do you find there is something you are better at or know more about than most of your coworkers? How can it help them to do their jobs better?
  • Once you discover your niche, become an expert. Build up your expertise both at and beyond work. It is great to take advantage of training available on the job, but taking it a step further to learn through associations, reading, communities of practice, and other opportunities outside work not only shows your dedication to your practice, but is really where true expertise is formed.
  • Offer to help. You are an expert; you have an informed opinion, share it… that’s why people have you sitting at the table. There will be two types of opportunities for you to demonstrate your knowledge: The first, more obvious opportunity is when someone seeks out your help for work related to your expertise. The second is less obvious and requires you to proactively identify opportunities where your expertise could be of use. And don’t let that hard work go to waste, keep a log of what you’ve accomplished, evidence of your work, and emails where you’ve received thanks and praise.

A little gloating goes a long way

  • If you did something great, let it be known… at the appropriate time. A year-end review or a promotion conversation is no time to be shy. Prepare a list of your accomplishments and be ready to answer the question, “Why should you be promoted?” Much like on a resume, your accomplishments should be tangible and meaningful to the audience. For example, “I developed a new process, which contributed to our team spending 20% less time working on administrative paperwork and instead dedicated that time to our clients who reported increased satisfaction.”
  • Too much is too much. There is an appropriate time for boasting, but otherwise humility is something everyone will appreciate. Take the time to compliment others on their hard work. Give credit where credit is due, and focus on doing great work that others can see instead of hear about.

Be visible: No matter how great you are or what amazing things you can do, it doesn’t matter if no one knows you.

  • Take time to get to know your leaders and for them to get to know you. Put 15 minutes on their calendars to tell them about your background and to learn from their experiences.
  • Expand your network beyond your immediate department. It’s nice to build deep relationships with your closest coworkers, but often opportunities will exist beyond your department. If you have the chance to work on a side-project or have lunch with someone new, take it. Don’t forget to drop them a note from time to time too. This is something I have to continue to remind myself to do, but is valuable for maintaining your network.

If you’ve found something you are great at that is helpful to others, there is a good chance people will take notice. Unfortunately, they’re not always the right people or enough people, especially if you work for a large organization where someone other than your immediate boss has a say in your progression. While it may seem unnatural, some “strategic self-promotion,” as Eric Rudolf referred to it, is critical. So take a moment to assess yourself and be prepared to brag a bit when the time is right.