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In today’s competitive corporate environment, it is no longer enough to do your job well; that is, in fact, the minimum expectation from any employer. Being good at what you do does not guarantee success, and every working professional needs to build their personal brand at the workplace. It’s not about image makeover or physical appearance; there is merit in that as well, but your brand must go beyond how you appear.
The term brand is synonymous with trust, quality, and loyalty. It is also associated with awareness and perception. That’s true for our personal brand as well. However, there is one more concept of traditional corporate brand equity that can be applied to personal brands as well. “Recall Value” – what do people associate you with and remember you for, when you are not in the room. When do people think of you? What are you known for beyond your core functional responsibilities?
Your brand indicates your influence outside your immediate sphere of work. If you cultivate it carefully and invest the required time, you can create strong brand equity, which will surely reap dividends in the long run. Here are seven suggestions on how to develop your profile and brand:
This is one of the simplest and fool-proof ways to create your brand. Gaining knowledge must not be mistaken with just deep functional expertise of your domain. There are enough subject matter experts in every industry and organization. Being knowledgeable in today’s world also means how well-rounded your knowledge is, in not just your field, but adjacent domains as well. You should be seen as someone who understands the bigger picture, knows about the business, and contributes richly towards discussions on business planning and strategy. To build in this area, you need to spend time with teams in other functions, read and research, and participate in cross-functional meetings. Be open to learning new things in functions alien to you. Always remember that knowledge is power and can be your unique identity in your organization.
If your company has a blogging platform, you can use it as a great way to engage your colleagues and develop your brand. Writing insightful articles helps initiate a healthy exchange of ideas and discussions. Of course, some people have a flair of writing, and this may come naturally to them. But that your expression can be refined if what you are saying is informative. If you find it challenging to express your ideas through the written word, start with small posts with engaging content and gradually build experience in this field. Take feedback from your readers to help you evolve. The key thing is to make sure your content is adding value and stimulating for your audience.
Sharing your knowledge and experiences through formal training programs or informal meet-ups is yet another great way to build your profile. You can pick up technical topics relevant to the industry, people-related topics, or general topics of interest. If you aren’t an expert yet, dedicate time regularly towards learning. Training is a mutual learning process, so when you train others, you also learn in the process. Check with teams on what topics they would want to have discussions on. Spend time researching and preparing on industry developments and innovations. A lot of information is already available freely, but people usually allocate time to read, understand, and apply. You can bridge that gap and develop your style and content to deliver learnings in small modules. Leverage floor huddles, webinars, video conferencing to share.
Most organizations today have various affinity networks such as Diversity Networks, Veterans’ Networks, etc. You can actively participate in any of these existing networks or groups and contribute towards a cause outside your work. This is a fantastic way to engage with teams outside your core work and can prove to be an excellent platform to expand your network. The important thing here is that your participation should be based out of your interest and not for the sake of it. People will notice it if your participation is superficial, and that could hurt your brand equity negatively. So identify your areas of interest and identify existing avenues in your organization to further them.
Again, most organizations today have activity and interest-based clubs to engage employees in areas such as sports, science and technology, public speaking, green initiatives, etc. Pick up an area that you are passionate about and start contributing towards the clubs’ goals. Companies also have CSR initiatives, so if you strongly associate with a social cause which your company has aligned with, demonstrate initiative and start contributing. This is again a great way to expand your network and influence. On the other hand, if you are interested in some activity which is not currently offered by your organization, start the discussion with relevant managers to launch it. Take the lead and for all you know, there could be many people who are interested but never took the initiative to take it forward.
Some organizations have in-house launchpads and incubators programs for new idea generation. These act as an excellent platform to encourage and launch new ideas and showcase the creativity of employees. If your company is providing such an opportunity, make sure you participate in it. Ideally, form a cross-functional team for idea submission. Whether your idea gets incubated or not is not as significant, as the entire process of submission, preparing for a pitch, implementation and the learning that comes with it. Don’t lose hope if your idea does not move forward. Collect feedback on why it did not make through and how you can refine it for the next pitch.
You can also volunteer to participate in mentorship programs that your organization provides to mentor employees. This can be a great way to leverage your experience and showcase your willingness to step outside your core work responsibilities. You can mentor employees based on specific needs - new employees, first-time managers, people looking to improve a particular skill, etc.
Depending on how much time you are ready to invest, you can pick up one or more avenues from above. Please don’t do it for the sake of it, but contribute meaningfully and add value. The long-term objective is about investing in building your brand equity, which will pay off only if you do it with determination. Half-hearted attempts might actually do more harm than good. Remember, whatever area you select, make sure that it aligns with your passion and interest.
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