I hear it all the time. “But, I’m not an executive.” “That stuff is so ‘woo-woo.” “I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not.”
My clients would be the first to tell you that these are sentiments of the misinformed. I’ll explain one point at a time.
- Personal branding is for everyone, not just executives. Why would only executives need to know their biggest contributions to the world of work?
Why wouldn’t YOU want to understand what strengths your peers most value in you?
Everyone should be able to answer the question, “So, what do you do?” or “What position are you looking for?” with ease and confidence in a way that piques the interest of the person asking.
How many times have you been asked about what you do or want professionally and proceeded to stick your foot right into your mouth? Or, been left stammering and feeling awkward? Personal branding exercises and assessments can help you find just the right words to answer these questions in a way that represents you well.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on high-priced executive career coaching to get a handle on your personal brand. Not that I don’t advocate using a coach—I am one! But, if you are on a budget, there’s no reason you can’t do your own version of personal branding. There are some super-simple things you can do. I’ll give you these tips later in this article.
OK, some personal branding is a little “woo-woo.” Not the personal branding I do, of course, but there are some folks that have a much more emotional approach to this work. Which can be great for certain clients. I tend to go about branding in a more practical way. That’s just my style and it works for my clients.
My theory is that if you are going to ask someone to go out on a limb, asking colleagues and friends to describe your work, it’s got to have a purpose. I wouldn’t want someone to go through a process if there wasn’t a point. So what is the point? Glad you asked…
Personal Branding is about what makes YOU unique at work. It’s absolutely not about being someone else or pretending to have skills you don’t really possess. The point of personal branding is to help you become more aware of what your biggest strengths are in the eyes of others AND give you the best language to describe your talents to others. Here’s a great example:
A client took a branding assessment where her colleagues gave her honest feedback on her skills. She was surprised when they referred to her primarily as “resourceful” and “helpful.” She just wasn’t expecting to be appreciated for those traits. She realized that she had been taking that for granted about herself. When I asked my client to expand on how she used those traits at work,she had some great stories describing her success being resourceful. This led her to be able to describe herself like this:
“I’m an insightful sales rep who easily builds trust with my retailers. Simply by really knowing what their business needs are and being their go-to resource, I’m able to quadruple sales and dramatically expand territories.”
It took some coaching and tweaking to get this statement to be the words that she was most comfortable using in describing herself. But, now, when she’s out networking and gets asked, “So, what do you do?” she knows exactly how to answer. Plus, she’s got concrete examples to back these claims up.
Getting back to those tips I promised. My simple branding strategy is this: Ask people what they value in you. What words do they use to describe you? Which areas are you most successful in at your job? You get the idea.
You can do this several ways:
- Via email—Simply email several of your most respected professional associates and friends and ask them those questions.
- Use an anonymous survey— SurveyMonkey is one my clients use. You can write your own questions to get honest feedback.
- Use 360Reach—This is a well-respected branding tool that simplifies the process tremendously. It’s a paid-for service, but it’s affordable. The report can be invaluable.
See, it’s not just for execs. There’s a lot of value for everyone in knowing this information about themselves, no matter what professional level they are at. It’s not all that woo-woo, is it? And, it’s not fake in the least. Any other preconceived notions I can dispel? Bring it! Leave a comment. I’d love to address other concerns people have about branding. Contact me any time via my webpage , you can use my email , or just give me a call at (608) 516-1637.