Do you think about yourself as a brand? If not, you might want to start!
Whether you’re a marketer or a consumer of any product or service (which is just about everyone), you’ve seen companies brand themselves well, and others…well, not so much. We’re quick to roll our eyes at commercials that try too hard to be funny, or restaurants that don’t serve the “high quality” food they claim. Your personal brand is not much different, especially in the business world. It’s important to know what you stand for, have the right people surrounding you, and continue to make decisions that reflect your personal brand as you progress in your career. Take a look at how these principles (commonly applied to company brands) apply to your personal brand, and will help take you to the next level.
1. Know What You Stand For.
Do you know what you stand for? And I’m not referring to your personal beliefs. I’m referring to what you want to accomplish in your career. Is your goal to be a leader of a Fortune 500 company where your role is high profile and constantly changing? Or to be a dedicated and reliable staff person at an incredible company where you can happily retire? We all know it’s important to have an end goal in mind, but it’s also important to communicate it to others, and make decisions that will get your there. And just a note, yes, your career direction can (and likely will) change over time. This exercise can be applied at any stage of the game, regardless of change. In order to begin telling the story of who you are (and holding yourself accountable to it), start by asking yourself the question, “What do I want to be known for when people in my industry hear my name?” This can be type and level of role, accomplishments, character, etc. Don’t be bashful, reach for the stars.
2. Surround Yourself With the Right People.
Once you’ve decided what you stand for and where you want your career to go, it’s important to surround yourself with people who will encourage you along the way (and you can do the same for them). This can mean finding a mentor, joining several networking groups, taking people out to coffee for informational interviews, and more. The main point is that you need to put effort into bettering yourself. Here’s a few non-work examples – when you’re a college athlete, you have a coach. If you want to learn how to play the piano, you hire a piano teacher. Similar to examples like these, if you want to develop your skills in a certain area, you need to have instructors, role models, and systems in place to accomplish what you’re after.
In the business world, you will likely have to take initiative and seek these people out on your own. If you don’t, you may accomplish good things – but I guarantee you’ll accomplish great things if you have people in your life who will keep you accountable (to who you want to be, and where you want your career to go). These people also make the best referrals when looking for new opportunities.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable.
Once you know who you want to be and what you want to accomplish in your career, and you have a support system of people who will help you make that a reality and push you to be even better, there is one more major step left. Live it out. Simple as it may sound, it takes a conscious effort to live out who you’ve claimed you want to be. This is where setting goals come into play. If you want to be known as a great networker, make time to network. Again, simple…stupidly simple, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in the rest of your life that you loose track of the steps needed to accomplish your end goal. Think of what you want to accomplish, and determine steps you need to take to get there. (Even meet with someone who has accomplished a similar goal to learn from his or her perspective!)
To offer you next steps, in order to have a successful career developed by a strong personal brand, take 10-20 minutes, pull out a blank piece of paper (or Word doc), and write a few things down. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Who am I, and what do I want to accomplish in my career?
- Am I surrounded by people who will help me get there? If not, how will I find them?
- What steps can I take to accomplish my goals?
Have you done a similar exercise and seen success? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!