I know. It is something I see a physical response to whenever I mention it as an important contributor to career success. Along with getting more visible. And networking.
People tend to leap straight to the extreme and think of the most prolific social media user / networker / schmoozer and react with horror that they don’t want to be anything like THEM, thank you very much. They will just get on with their busy job and crack on with the to do list. Keep their head down and focus on the urgent priorities.
But whatever you feel about the name or the topic of personal branding, like it or not we all have one. There’s a brilliant quote by Jeff Bezos, that
‘your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.’
So I invite you to stop for a moment and reflect on these two coaching questions:
1. What do you want to be known for (or in other words what do you want other people to say about you when you aren’t in the room?)
2. What can YOU do to influence it?
For point 1: Come up with as many as you can think of – write a list!
For point 2: Take each point in turn and consider how you can influence how you are seen. Because you can play a part in influencing how other people see you. You can do this in a range of different ways.
Here are a couple of examples of my own to bring it to life:
1. I want to be known as someone who gives back and helps others, so I:
- Volunteer for Girls Friendly Society (GFS) as a Board Committee member and founder of their Ambassador team
- Mentor others through Protégé Business Mentoring
- Do some pro-bono sessions for good causes.
2. I want to be known as an expert in careers so I:
- Write and share a monthly blog on career topics (you are reading one right now!)
- Create content to post on LinkedIn weekly (and am now a LinkedIn Top Voice for Careers)
- Contribute to publications on career topics including being the resident Career Coach for Life Lovers Magazine.
Using LinkedIn is one way. Writing a strong LinkedIn profile is a great starting point. But this is just the beginning. Your LinkedIn profile is only viewed if someone does a search on you or if they click through from something you have posted. So posting on LinkedIn is important too.
One of the things I hear consistently from my coaching clients is that they don’t like the idea of posting on LinkedIn. They feel very vulnerable at the thought of ‘putting themselves out there’ and sharing their view on something in the public domain. They aren’t creating their own content, and in most cases aren’t even commenting on other people’s posts.
For them it falls into the ‘oh I know I should’’ box, never quite becoming urgent or important enough to rise up the to-do list and actually be done.
Even with fantastic, experienced leaders, there seems to be a fear factor and a common misconception that they have nothing to add, that they aren’t enough of an ‘expert’ or that there is no one who would benefit from their experience. No one they could help. In the vast majority of cases I disagree with them.
Of course, LinkedIn is just one of the ways you can influence how others see you. Others include:
- Being active on internal company channels and message boards
- Using other social media platforms
- Choosing to be visible with your camera on and getting involved in the dialogue on meetings, webinars etc
- Supporting initiatives and speaking up about things that matter to you
- Mentoring others
- Bringing solutions to the meeting rather than problems.
- Asking a question at the big town hall meeting
- Writing articles for the company newsletter or external publications in your field
- Joining and contributing to an internal Employee Resource Group
- Volunteering for a charity
- Putting yourself or your team forward for an award
The ABCD model of Personal Branding is a handy reminder of things to be conscious of:
A – Appearance
B – Behaviour
C – Communication
D – Digital Presence
They all contribute to how you are perceived.
Remember – if you’re not branding yourself, you can be sure others do it for you. So whatever ways you choose, choose something. Be proactive about influencing what you want to be known for.
My earlier blog Why lurking on LinkedIn won’t help you get a new role might be of interest if you are a looking for new opportunities currently.