Remember how in high school and college you were labeled? Maybe you were a “Jock,” “Nerd”, “Prep,” “Goth” or “Hipster.” Without even realizing it, you had a brand. Now that you’ve entered the work world, you also have a brand. But personal brand-building at work has far more elements and carries far greater implications than who you asked out in high school.
In public relations, you help strategize, position, and create story angles and pitches for your clients. It comes with the territory. So one would assume you have your own personal brand nailed, right? Don’t assume.
Establishing and managing your personal brand at work is imperative. It can build your credibility, differentiate you from the competition, and give you control over your career. Whether or not you have a brand, the question you need to be asking yourself is, “How do I want to be known?”
Your personal brand is in large part, how others perceive you. I see it as being comprised of four qualities – Competencies, Reputation, Image and Value. Let’s review all four areas.
- Competencies – Your effectiveness, how you solve problems or lead, your ability to influence or synthesize information – are all examples of competency areas. You might have more competencies than you give yourself credit for. Furthermore, competencies are what can carry you when you don’t have experience. Get clear about the competencies you have, and those you seek to build on for each role or job you are in.
- Reputation – You’re in PR so you know word spreads quickly, especially the bad stuff. Reputations arise from hastily formed impressions. Seek feedback from trusted sources across organizational levels to know what your reputation is. If it needs mending, devise a strategy and implement it quietly. Social media can impact your reputation – don’t rant, complain, pontificate or disparage in cyberspace; employers and prospective employers can and probably are watching.
- Image – Your physical image drives the first impression someone has about you. Your clothing, grooming, tone of voice, presentation skills and manners speak volumes. Resist being too casual in any of these areas. Take it up a notch without trying too hard. Pay attention to how more senior people you admire behave in business and social settings, and emulate them.
- Value – Make sure you are contributing in a way that is of value to the cause, the group or the project. If you are the only one who likes your ideas, you aren’t necessarily adding value in that context. Your value is often linked to your strengths, talents and skills, so know them and deploy them thoughtfully. Your compensation is usually related to your perceived value. Strive to be indispensable, and that means you can name your price.
During the early years of your career, build your personal brand with care. Avoid labels, and create a personal brand that is based on the authentic you. Refine the 4 components of your brand – competency, reputation, image and value throughout your work life. Know how you want to be known, and act accordingly.
Ginny Clarke is a former executive recruiter and founder of Talent Optimization Partners, LLC, a talent and career management firm offering live and web-enabled career management programs and services. The second of her year-long series of career management workshops is tomorrow night (April 4 at 7 p.m. CST). Ginny is offering a special discount for readers of this blog. Just enter promo code “CULPWRIT” and pay only $29, a savings of $71. Get more information and register here.