When’s the last time you evaluated your personal brand? I’m not talking about a little five minute introspection following an annual review, I’m talking about a top to bottom look at how you are seen and how that differs from how you want to be seen.
Whether you’re an entry-level employee or a mid-level executive, what we do can and will shape how we’re seen by others. To successfully manage your brand, steal a page from brand management 101 and ask yourself the following questions:
1.What are you trying to accomplish? A question you should ask yourself multiple times throughout the day. Whether it’s how you word a follow up email to an angry customer, or positioning yourself for a promotion, you can’t get out of first gear if you don’t first know what you’re trying to accomplish.
2.What’s your value proposition? Chances are there are dozens of equally qualified people just like you within your department, company, and industry. What’s unique to your brand? What can you do that will add more value than someone else?
3.How are you packaging yourself? From how you dress, to the role you play with your work group, your packaging occurs on many levels. To get a feel for how well you stack up, observe how others in the organization are packaging themselves.
4.Who are your competitors? People that you are directly or indirectly competing with as you climb the corporate ladder. Knowing your competition is a must if you’re going to be able to effectively differentiate yourself when you’re gunning for that big promotion.
5.What’s your brand promise? What do you want to stand for? What is it that you say you’ll do? As will come as no surprise to those who know me, responsiveness is a big part of my brand promise.
6.What’s your tone and manner? People make snap judgments based on how you present your ideas and respond to situations. Are you someone who flies off the handle or are you someone who remains calm, cool and collected? Do you approach issues using wording that will promote dialogue or are you abrasive and standoffish? Something as little as “Have we thought about going in this direction” versus “You need to go in this direction” can make a huge difference.
7.Is your brand strategy working? A question you should be asking more than once a year. Look to feedback from 360, quarterly and/or annual reviews. Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues from coworkers and make adjustments as needed.
Our brand matters. And, unlike large corporations, we don’t have a team of marketers behind the scenes telling us what to do and how to act on the job. Don’t leave your brand to chance, dedicate time to evaluate and manage it every day.
Shawn Graham is an Associate Director with the MBA Career Management Center at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (courtingyourcareer.wordpress.com).