Brands aren’t just for products, companies, & organizations – they apply to individuals too. Develop your professional brand to promote career success.
If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you. – Zig Ziglar
Career success and development don’t just happen. You have to make it happen and it all starts with your brand. Your brand is the intersection of how you present yourself and how other people perceive you.
Everyone develops a professional brand, whether they want to or not. The keys to developing the brand you want are authenticity, consistency, and intention.
Your brand begins with you. Understanding who you are and what is important to you is the first step to intentionally building your individual brand. If you’re having a hard time defining your values and priorities, try completing an exercise to help bring them into focus.
Your values and priorities drive your decisions and actions – your decisions and actions influence your brand. Presenting your true self to others is necessary to create an authentic brand.
Understand your brand assets and detractors
Your experiences, characteristics, skills, and personality shape your uniqueness. Natural traits include both your superpowers and your kryptonite. Both can and will affect your brand. Understanding them can help you highlight your assets, focus your energies around what you are naturally good at, and take steps to overcome your detractors.
Brand assets are those things that make you stand out from the crowd in a good way. Everyone has a unique value proposition. Identify those personality traits, skills, or experiences that make you the perfect person for the job or task. Intentionally showcase those assets to people in your network, future employers, or business partners.
Brand detractors are those things that make you stand out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons and will sabotage your professional growth. We all have those personality traits, behavior patterns, and skill or knowledge gaps that hold us back. Don’t ignore them. Face them head-on and intentionally take steps to overcome them.
When you’re building a professional brand there are some practical actions you can take.
- Be transparent. Help others get to know you by putting yourself and your story on display. Explain why you make the decisions you make or take the actions you take. If you don’t create your brand, others will create it for you. Take control of your story.
- Ask for feedback regularly. Gathering information about how people perceive you can help you identify if there is alignment between what you are presenting and what people are perceiving. Knowledge is power.
- Practice self-reflection. If you have an interaction or experience that doesn’t go as you expected, take time to reflect and ask yourself some simple but challenging questions. Was I true to my authentic self? Did I use my brand assets? Did I allow my brand detractors to sabotage me?
- Be prepared. Create a position statement so you’re ready to sell yourself and your brand assets when the opportunity arises. People will ask you, “What do you do?”. Be ready to answer that question with boldness and creativity that will leave a lasting impression.
The ultimate goal of branding your professional identity is to advance your career, increase your circle of influence, and have a larger impact. Maintaining your brand is just as important and challenging as creating one. Create a strong brand and stay true to it.