The days of being employed in one company – and in one career – went out the window in the ’80s.
Today, in the knowledge economy, it is all about talent. It is about building eminence, thought leadership, unique skills that are in demand, and being known for what it is you can do that no one else can – or that you can do differently or better than anyone else. And critically, it is not just enough that you know what you know – others have to know that you know it.
Eminence is in the eye of the beholder. So, unless others recognise it in you, then you are really just an expert, all on your lonesome sitting in the corner, and where is the fun (or success) in that? So think about what you want to be known for, and how you can make that happen.
And remember: be specific. If you think you can be known for everything, you run the risk of being known for nothing at all. I know lots of stuff: business strategy, marketing, branding, change management, culture, leadership, positive psychology, coaching, wellness, yoga teaching, how to demolish a cupcake in three seconds – you get the drift. But what
I want to be known for is what I am most passionate about : helping individuals and organisations to create positive change. So get clarity, build your deep expertise, and then you can make a big song and dance of it to others.
It’s not just about looks and skills – it’s also about behaviour
Many of the things I listed about branding yourself in my previous post were not about knowledge, or how you look, or how firm your handshake is (but please, ladies, this is not a time to be dainty). They were about behaviours. I cannot stress this strongly enough, when you are thinking about branding yourself. What you are known for is as much about how you do what you do, as it is about what you actually do.
Building and owning your personal brand online
In this age of connectivity, how you show up online is just as important (or maybe even more important) as how you show up to a meeting. How you represent yourself and your brand online can make or break you, in terms of others’ perception, your reputation, and whether you are branding yourself fabulous, or just a little tragic.
Whether you are 25 or 55, if you are going to be online, then you need to be mindful of what you are saying, what others are saying about you, and how you manage both. And if you haven’t done a Google search on yourself recently, do one, pronto! Knowing what is out there on the web when people are looking for you – whether it is a future employer, a client, or even a new boyfriend – is critical to managing your brand. So here are just a few considerations of your online brand aspects, and what to think about.
Blog and personal website
Firstly, go and buy your domain name. You don’t want someone else registering your personal name domain, and trust me, it happens. At 25, this may not seem important. But by 35, when you change track and are making a name for yourself, it will matter. If you have an area of expertise, and want to share what you know and create a dialogue, starting a blog is a great way of doing it. There is plenty of information out there on the web about how to be a great blogger. Think about whether you have something new, different and interesting to blog about, then go and do your research. It is a great asset to build your personal brand and thought leadership.
As the “go-to” network for professionals, there is no better place to get connected online with people who may be able to help you further your career, make connections, and build your profile – and for you to help others. It is like your online, very well-publicised resume, and so much more. Invest good time and thought into how you want to be represented, and who you want to connect with.
How many careers have been damaged, job opportunities lost and reputations left in tatters, because of things posted on Facebook? Facebook is an amazing opportunity to network and build your connections, in a less formal way than LinkedIn. So if you want to use it for more than just connecting socially, go ahead. I connect with loads of people in a different and more intimate way on Facebook, and also with people who aren’t on LinkedIn. So think about what your purpose is before you go uploading your latest crazy photo of you and your favourite vodka bottle (I know you wouldn’t, but others have – and much, much worse). Think also about your Twitter profile and connections in the same way.
One final note on branding yourself ‘fabulous’: the best way you can build a strong and memorable personal brand is to help other people. The more you can reach out and help other people be successful, the more others will want to help you. There is little worse than someone who is blatant about self-promotion, and I see it all the time. It is off-putting, and I just want to get away as quickly as possible.
If it takes me a few days (or longer) to return someone’s call, they usually fall into this category. I know they just want to sell me something, ask a favour without one ever coming back to me, or just suck my time and energy through glorifying themselves. Don’t be one of these people. Find out who you can help and how through your personal eminence, and you will find your sphere of influence and connection growing through doing the right thing. People want to help a helper, so be one.
Other tips for branding yourself ‘fabulous’
- You have a personal brand, whether you like it or not. So it’s better to take control and brand yourself fabulous, than to just stick your head in the sand (it’s not good for the make-up, anyway).
- Think about how you look, how others perceive you, what you know and who knows it, and what your online profile says about you – you will have gone a long way to build the brand that works for you.
- You need to self-promote, but don’t gloat. Helping others first, through what you know and what you can do for them, is the best way to build endorsements that matter. And it all comes back to you in the end, so make sure it’s the good stuff you are putting out there.
This is an edited extract from Megan Dalla-Camina’s new book, Getting Real About Having it All.