This is the second in a series of three posts dealing with “brand.” A piece on employment brands in general proceeded it and some company employment brand examples and how-to’s will follow. As someone who’s been in the people (and teams) coaching business for over 25 years, and also been directly responsible for hiring thousands of people through roles running large staffing / recruiting operations, I have a pretty good idea why some firms recruit well (and others don’t), and how people can take their best foot forward as either a job candidate or consultant / vendor.
A personal brand is another way to say “professional reputation.” It’s what we’re known for, or known as. Even though in our Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter world, personal and professional are quickly smooshing into each other, you have the opportunity to cultivate and nuture a personal brand this is authentically yours. And at a time where some people are looking for the recession to continue, I think it’s time to be, in Warren Buffett’s words, “greedy” and opportunistic and do some spring cleaning on your brand to make sure it’s in shape as the economy recovers and opportunities pick up.
Why is this important? Because while our personal brands may not be as well known as “Democrat” or “Republican”, the value of strong, effective personal brands is essential because it defines– hopefully for the better – who you are, what you do, and – if you’re looking for your next job or role – your value.
The value in noting, clarifying, and improving your personal brand is that it provides a method for crystallizing and shaping yourself. As noted in an earlier post [New Rules] 5 Landmines to Sidestep When Changing Jobs failing to consider your personal narrative – which is the stuff personal brand is made of – is one of the things that derails careers for people.
A personal brand – think Tim Duncan in US men’s professional basketball as “The Big Fundamental ” or Jamie Oliver “The Naked Chef” – enables you to communicate in a shorthand form one person: YOU!
Hollywood, where metaphors describe films when pitching them (e.g. the movie “Speed” as “Die Hard on a bus ”), gives you a great way to think about how people would define you based on your professional reputation / brand.
So how do you start working on your brand? Like anything, a little research and checking will let you figure out, or confirm your brand. Here’s the order I’d follow:
- Check into your personal network. If you’ve followed earlier advice in “Know Yourself” – Part 2 of the series “Choose Me, Hire Me! ”
- You’ve got a robust set of people who know you, have shown they can help, and will likely help you again.
- Check with people with whom you currently work (co-workers, supervisors, clients, and vendors) or with whom you’ve worked in the past.
- Four questions (rework into your own words) I’d ask folks with whom you speak (see #1 and #2):
- What professional attributes / characteristics / things do you (the person you’re talking with) think of when you think of me?
- What, if anything, about that reputation would you change?
- What, if anything, about that reputation would you keep as is?
- What sorts of opportunities do you see someone (e.g. YOU) with that professional reputation (aka: brand) being able to do with their work life.
Answers to those four questions from a number of people will give you some themes and direction to think through three thoughts; 1) is this who I am, and 2) what if anything do I want to change and 3) what’s the action step, if any, I need to pull together to change it.
It’s been fun in my coaching practice to see people whose short-hand brands ( “I make sure the trains run on time”, “I hit home runs”, or “I fix problems”) provide a great sense of who the person is, the type of work and performance they deliver, and where and how they need to effectively communicate their brand.
Part of having an effective personal brand is distilling, and known the authentic you. A second part is figuring out where and what to do with the brand in terms of sustain and hold, or change and shift, and perform and communicate.
In all cases a good strong brand helps you by giving people a crisp sense of who you, what you are about, and the value you deliver.
More to come.