Originally published on Linkedin – June 13, 2015
Over the course of my career I have been coached on personal brand and I have provided coaching on personal brand. It’s one of the most difficult conversations to have because personal brand is, well, personal. Personal brand is how people see you, how you show up at work, what you stand for. If you came up in conversation, what are the first three words someone would use to describe you? Are you reliable, fun, and innovative? Or would people say you’re argumentative, arrogant or rude?
Personal brand is the difference between someone saying, “Oh, I love that guy” and “Oh, I hate working with that guy.” I’m sure in my life I’ve been both, but here are a few reasons why it actually matters.
- Your work doesn’t speak for itself. On two separate occasions when talking personal brand with a couple of very intelligent colleagues I have heard, ‘My work should speak for itself.’ Their right, it should. But, it doesn’t. Whatever work you do may be fantastic and amazing, but there is a good chance that the only person that notices is your boss. Now, if you have a leader that cheers your name from the rooftops then maybe you are in good shape, but when it comes time for your next professional step, you need more. You need to up your personal brand. If you aren’t taking the time to interact with those around you, if you’re not smiling and saying good morning, if you don’t take a general interest in lives of your colleagues, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Someone said to me, ‘Am I supposed to just walk around and ask people how there day is?’ The short answer is yes; sometimes that is exactly what you should do.
- Relationships get work done. Like it or not, who you know matters in many cases more than, or at least as much as what you know. Every day we rely on cross-functional teams to provide information, approval and support in some form or fashion. Taking time to build relationships and knowing the right people in the right areas can help you shine. If you are sitting in a meeting and a complex problem comes up requiring information from other places in the company, do you think, ‘hey, I know Jeff in finance can probably help with that’ or ‘I’ll bet Jennifer in I.S. could point me in the right direction’? Not only does it increase your productivity and value, it shows you are resourceful and makes your contacts feel valued that you thought to come to them. Soon, they will be seeking you out in similar fashion. But these relationships can’t be built if you have your head down and your earphones in at your cubicle all day.
- Companies are made up of people. I know, it’s shocking, but the biggest companies in the world are just a bunch of folks with a common goal. And people like being around positive, fun, hardworking, pleasant, respectful, trustworthy people. You probably want to be around those people too. Which means, you should probably want to be one of those people. It means people will want to work with you, contribute to your project and find success alongside you. Have you worked with people you’re rather not be in the same room with? I know I have. I don’t want to be that person.
- You don’t know everything. Sorry to tell you, but you have things to learn. I have things to learn. We can always get better. Lucky for us, there are smart people all around us that would love to contribute to our learning. But if you aren’t investing your time in relationships you are missing out. Take time to network and learn from those around you. Consider who you like to be around and what their personal brand says about them.
- Personal Brand is all about you. You may be thinking that this is all about putting on a front, being Mr.Nice guy and being fake. It’s not. Introverted, extroverted, emotional, analytical, it doesn’t matter. Show genuine interest and care for those around you coupled with a strong work ethic and your personal brand will flourish while you remain true to yourself. And when you have a personal brand that flourishes, your work relationships excel and your work output increases, work is more enjoyable.
Try writing out your personal brand by starting with ‘I want others to feel..’ or ‘I want to be known for…’
What I hope my personal brand says about me:
Respect: I want to others to feel that I respect each person’s scope of responsibility, the expertise they bring to the table and ideas they have for improvement.
Collaboration: I want others to feel I foster an open environment that accepts feedback and works through team approach.
Innovation: I want to be known for new ideas and always pushing my work to be better.
Care: I want those around me to know I care about their well being and professional success.
Humor: I want to be known as lighthearted, making work fun.
Passion: I want others to know I care about what I do and I give it my all.
Protective: I am a protector of my team and the culture and will not tolerate disrespect or aggression. Behaviors that tear down are not acceptable.
Good luck on building your personal brand.