Personal branding is an elusive topic to most people, yet it is important for career success. Wise professionals with career success know it can mean the difference between landing that dream job and never getting noticed.
So what do you think of when you hear the word “professional brand?” Simply stated, a brand is a promise of the value you’ll deliver. “You may think you don’t need a brand, but the reality is that you already have one,” says Jana Fallon, vice president, Executive Development for Prudential Financial. “By managing that professional reputation you already have, you increase your chances of being known for qualities that can land your dream job or get you noticed by a company you have always wanted to work. If you do start actively managing your brand, you can find real power in knowing and sharing what your unique differentiators are.”
Fallon recommends five specific actions you can take today to improve your brand reputation.
B = Build
Build your brand by first defining what you want that brand to be. To make this simpler, it should include no more than three or four characteristics that describe what you offer or aspire to offer. It is good to be aspirational but it also must be realistic. If you are having trouble getting started, begin by asking people you trust what they immediately associate with you. Ask for honest feedback and listen to what you hear.
R = Reflect
Reflect on your strengths and liabilities frequently. What is the unique value that you have to offer and what do you aspire to be? Think about your strengths and what you do really well. What do you want to be known for in business? What differentiates you? Use those reflections to establish your unique brand. Perhaps you want to be known as a very curious, engaged consultant. Or perhaps your unique brand is one of intelligence, candor and strong ethics.
A = Actions speak
In order to sustain your brand, you have to act accordingly. Your behaviors and the decisions you make daily impact your brand. Be bold in defining your brand and then have the courage to live up to that brand promise. If you are finding it challenging to start living your brand, find someone that has a style, behavior or an approach that you admire. Emulate what works. Try it yourself and see if it feels right for you. Experiment until you find your own authentic behavior.
N = Network nonstop
To get others to recognize your brand, you have to market yourself. This clearly takes time and effort, but it can be done effectively if you follow these key steps. To share your brand, network in the organization you work in, outside work with other professional contacts and in your community. Make yourself visible to those that can influence your career.
The key to a successful professional brand is having strong “word-of-mouth marketing” from friends, coworkers, customers and other contacts. Having a strong brand means finding ways to network and manage what those contacts know and then say to others about your capabilities.
D = Decide today
“Decide to make managing your professional brand a priority,” Fallon says. “Carve out time each week to fine tune and evolve your defined brand. Make time to reflect and try out new behaviors and to expand your network. There is real power in knowing where you are focused and letting others know for what you aspire to be known.”