What do people think and say about you when you are not in the room? That is your personal brand and you need to be aware of it. For today’s conversation, we’ll explore this idea in the context of your professional reputation.
We all know folks who believe their job is just a job, a way to make money and pay their bills. However, I know even more folks who believe their job is more than this, believing their job is part of themselves and part of their career and their brand. This note is for you no matter which camp you feel is correct.
When I joined my most recent employer, I joined an already working team in a management role. As I introduced myself to others on the team and those in the department but not on my team, I would hear great things about my boss. Almost every person, to the letter, said “She’s amazing.” Great news for me. I already thought my manager was amazing, and it was nice to hear these thoughts expressed by other people in the organization. She had been at the firm for over 20 years and frankly, this was her personal brand. Years of doing good work and developing real relationships from direct reports, peers, colleagues and even her managers all consistent.
Then there’s the other type of personal brand. You’ve heard this I’m sure. Someone lands on your team and there’s a back-story. “No one knows what xxx does all day” you hear. Makes you want to either investigate for yourself or more likely run the other way.
How can you develop a personal brand at work that is positive? And avoid one that is negative? How can you promote your personal brand and build your own brand equity? This is key to having a true career and not just doing your job.
Let’s get proactive folks…. Here’s some advice:
- Make sure you keep the main thing the main thing
Whatever your job is, you need to stay focused on getting that done. Always do good work, no matter how small the task. Attain your work goals. That will help you to be seen as a go-getter, but also a person that your team and manager can rely upon.
- Learn from your mistakes
No one is perfect. Take responsibility for any mistakes or miscommunication and generally you will be respected. Fix any fallout or issues with your team and your relationships will eventually thrive.
- Communicate with your manager
Make sure you have a regularly touch base with your boss. Ask for feedback good and bad. If there is any bad feedback, figure out strategies with your manager to fix any issues. Ideally, you should not be surprised by anything in your annual review.
- Keep your eyes on the prize
Make sure you know what you want. Do you want to do the same job until you retire? Or do you want to be promoted into a new more senior role, or transfer to another division? Be sure to communicate with your manager and other managers in your company so you can be considered for promotions and opportunities.
- See honest feedback and be open to change
Ask your mentors or sponsors to be honest with you, if you have been assigned a formal mentor, take advantage of that relationship. If you have sponsors, do the same. These people can guide you and let you know when you are on the right track.
- Personal brand management requires effort on your part. Own it.
It may seem as though doing this is advocating more work to do at work. Remember, this is your own brand. You always should spend time on your own development…if you don’t see this as important…no one else will or should. If appropriate, allocate time specifically dedicated to increasing your internal and your external brand.
If you develop or work on your brand the way a company such as Apple works on their brand, you may discover a few things about yourself and your job. Office politics may be minimized. You will be in line for promotions and transfers. You will ace your performance evaluations. And you will have a better time with your team at work and be in a better position to balance your time outside of work. Finally, you may hear that others say you are amazing! Which will make all your efforts promoting your personal brand worthwhile.
Go forth and proper professionally…you owe it to yourself.