Today, organizations of all kinds are looking for strategic ways to establish trust and credibility and build powerful and enduring "brands." If these branding strategies can be used for products and services, why not people? You also have features and benefits, certain skills, and special talents that other people value. In creating your own personal brand, you'll want to exhibit and use those skills and talents that are highly valued by your "customers" and those that you enjoy using. Sure, you're bright, energetic, hard working, and dedicated, yet nothing much is going to happen until you "stand for something." So, here's my Top 10 list of things you can do to build your own personal "brand."
10. Be a leader.
Since cross-functional teams are proliferating, building them is a display of management competence and shows that you understand the new management priorities. That means perspective, objectivity, insight, and knowledge are emphasized. Stand-alone experts with narrow, tactical skills are not what's needed in today's leaner, flatter organizations. Be prepared to stick your neck out. We are in the insight and idea business. You should be stimulating, provoking, brainstorming, suggesting, and championing ideas to build the business. Constantly.
9. Be a resource.
Take broader responsibilities. Don't wait to become part of your company's strategic planning process. No involvement or lukewarm interest takes the appearance of no commitment, and a strong job commitment makes work more satisfying. It also empowers you, bringing out your potential and making you a more valuable employee.
8. Be a relationship builder.
Your own ideas will only get you so far. Personal relationships will carry you farther. We have much to learn from each other. Alliances within and outside the company will be an asset you can use in understanding and taking advantage of the changes that may be coming while benchmarking your experiences against the experiences of others.
7. Be a good listener.
You don't have all of the answers, and you can't rely on just your knowledge and experiences to guide you. You can learn cross-functionally from others inside your company and from people in other organizations and industries. Learn fast, or get left behind. But, manage your own morale.
6. Be on the lookout.
Capture a broad perspective. Keep an open mind to the issues that extend beyond your own core competencies. You need to assume more personal responsibility for the success of the entire company, rather than just the narrow boundaries of your job description. The more you know, both inside and outside the office, the more objective you can be and the more life experiences you will have. Teach a class, write an article, give a speech. You'll be recognized as capable of accepting a broader role.
5. Be enlightened.
Your career is a do-it-yourself project. The burden of your professional achievement and advancement are yours and yours alone. Losing your edge is the new career buster. Either you take responsibility for continuing your education or you end up without the knowledge you need to protect your career. If you continually educate yourself in other marketing skills, you'll be positioned to take on additional responsibilities. Defend your career by developing a better package of knowledge and skills than the next person. Never stop building your intellectual capital.
4. Be a communicator.
Too often we spend all the money reaching prospects and customers and no time or effort telling our own folks that something is coming and when, and what the objectives, strategies, and measurements are — and how they can use it in their interactions with customers.
3. Be credible.
Ooze discipline and organization. Marketing departments are often viewed as the playground; all fun and games. Continually demonstrate the value of your performance through as many objective, measurable ways as possible. Create the logical links between your efforts and the corporation's strategic objectives. Hold yourself accountable. Personal branding is not a static phenomenon. Creating a sustainable personal brand means knowing how to balance your core identity with the need for perpetual makeovers.
2. Be a catalyst.
We live in an economy where knowledge, not buildings and machinery, is the chief resource. Marketing activities uncover a lot of valuable information. Don't be shy about passing it along. Be a catalyst for better marketing. Make yourself more valuable, so everyone can see that your presence is profitable to the company and that something very important would be missing if you weren't there.
1. Be involved.
Success is not reserved for the favored few. It is available to all who are willing to unlock the power and infinite imagination that resides in the human mind and human spirit. Only ongoing, informal benchmarking with other industry leaders who are present at meetings and seminars can keep you up-to-date. Through access to information, proven ideas, and the interaction with peers, you will learn and grow.
Rick Kean is the Associate Director at the Institute for the Study of Business Markets and the Managing Director at the Business Marketing Institute. Find him online here.
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