The welter of chatter on developing a personal brand to advance a career has been missing one salient and elephant in the room point: doing an excellent job, stupid, is the most important branding exercise you can do, not sitting back spruiking yourself.
By doing an excellent job, you will be offered more challenging and enriching experiences in your current role which will enhance your skill set as well as add muscle to your résumé.
If you find this post of value, please share it through LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Google+ et al!
Look at it from a marketing point of view. Surely your boss, your potential future boss and recruiters are who constitute your primary target audience:
- It is your bosses (past and present) who are going to be your preferred referee for opportunities
- It is your potential future boss who you want to have a favourable perception of you, or else you won’t get offered the role
- In many cases, it will be a recruiter who undertakes initial role application culling and presents a short list to the potential future boss for consideration.
When it comes to future opportunities, what your past bosses say about you is going to have the greatest impact on your potential future boss’s perception of you.
It therefore makes sense that the quality of what you undertake in your current role is the best possible personal employee brand/career move you can make, not how you market yourself outside of this in a personal branding sense.
Take my favourite example of the chocolate bar. You can do great marketing to entice people to give the new chocolate bar a try, but unless the customer likes what they get, then the chocolate bar will never be bought again – flash and fizzle, sturm und drang, cutting edge social media marketing be damned.
Ipso facto, marketing fail.
You need to make sure, therefore, the ‘employee product’ that constitutes you and the quality of your work is one which makes people want to hire you again and again.
The other upside of this is that by delivering a quality employee product, your word of mouth-driven reputation is going to help you become a product in demand, both in your current role and for potential future roles.
Which takes me to important secondary target audiences for your career progression, that of leaders and emerging leaders within your business who you collaborate with will develop perceptions of the quality of your work.
Their judgements will have a ripple effect on your reputation, both inside and outside of the business. They will also influence your boss’s opinion of you (3rd party credibility).
You can be stone cold guaranteed that some of those you work with who are at lower levels in organisational hierarchy and organisational influence will not remain so, whether it is with your current organisation or at others. They are therefore important long-term stakeholders for you in your career progression.
Your own IP as frameworks
I haven’t encountered this thinking articulated before (though I’m not so vain as to believe it hasn’t occurred!), but you’ll find some bosses and potential employers think highly of you talking about frameworks and/or methodologies you have developed and applied.
Frameworks, models or matrices (and their underpinning methodologies) can be applied to a range of communication situations. It might be a framework you apply to the following situations:
- Consulting with stakeholders
- Identifying stakeholder needs, wants and issues which will impact on organisational reputation
- Determining the sorts of corporate social responsibility tactics that will best serve and organisation and its stakeholders
- Blending methodologies from different professional disciplines and/or management approaches into a unique approach which reflects your own personal view
- Issues and/or crisis management.
Frameworks or matrices have a sexy branding vibe associated with them. They sound sharp and are enhanced by their visual dimension (the power of visuals has an impact on personal employee branding, too!).
There are a plethora of frameworks out there. And many are taken by professionals from one role to the next, with some no doubt claiming them as their own when their own stamp on the framework is possibly quite small. If they work, however, then arguably that is the main point.
Having the frameworks and being able to talk about them provides evidence of your thoughtfulness, though there is always a risk of being perceived as being a boffin rather than a pragmatic ‘doer’. Examples of the frameworks in action, therefore, will help stymie this potential perception.
PR roles where personal branding helps
If you are running your own business or are a consultant, always on the hunt for new business, then personal branding takes on serious importance. This is because your potential client will be seeking security that what you can offer is pure quality. The profile (positive, of course) and endorsements that exist of your work all offer social proof of your credentials (i.e. 3rd party credibility).
For those working in-house, the business we are promoting is ourselves and our career. A place where actions speak louder than cute sturm und drang personal brand marketing efforts.
Only you can make the best call on what constitutes the appropriate approach, pillars of content (e.g. thought leadership) and effort to expend in building a rewarding long term career as an in-house employee.
How much effort, as an in-house employee, have you expended on building your personal employee brand? Is it on the to-do list? What are you prioritising, or would you like to prioritise, in efforts to build your brand to help with future employment opportunities?
If you found this post of value, please share it through LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Google+ et al!