Be intentional about your Personal Brand. Because “If you don’t brand yourself, Google will.”
I am a big advocate of that phrase.
Meaning: if you won’t take control of your narrative and what others think of you, you lose power.
This is something I learned from one of my mentors: everybody has an opinion! Including about you. And if you give others the liberty of framing that opinion themselves, it may not be one that benefits you!
If you don’t brand yourself, Google will!
Does that sound manipulative? Hahahahaa!
Actually, it’s not manipulation. It’s influence.
But let’s get back to YOU! You and your career.
Why do I talk about career growth on a blog where I also talk about entrepreneurship? Because in the modern age, many people including myself are employed full time AND running a business on the side. And we want to make the most out of all opportunities.
I know first hand how easy it is to get sucked up by work and only see till the end of my keyboard.
I’ve done it many, many times: keeping my head down and “working hard”. I even burned out trying to please everybody.
And to be honest: it was incredibly frustrating to get asked to to the same old thing. Only get projects within the area of expertise that I wanted to move out of.
Or when I saw people around me being promoted for opportunities I didn’t even know existed.
And something tells me I am not the only one….
Gone are the days when we just had to keep your head down and just do what we have been asked to do impeccably.
And a big promotion would slap us in the face as a grand gesture of THANK YOU for dedicating yourself to the success of the company (insert sound of angels singing here).
By the way: those “days” are a malicious urban myth. So get that lie out of your head right now.
The Workspace Brand helps you move up the corporate ladder
The thing is “doing the job” accounts only for 70% of the workplace experience we should have. This includes:
- role-based activities,
- extended assignments
- the relationships with the people we collaborate with directly.
On top, there’s an extra 30%. The extra mile that will actually take us where we want to get.
And trust me: That 30% will set you aside from everybody else. Why? Because the vast majority of people overlook that 30%. Or ok, maybe only give it 5%. And that 30%, the part that brings value, includes:
- development: it may be classroom training or individual study through reading a whitepaper
- mentoring and/or coaching
- strategic networking.
This accumulation of experience will equip you with a unique set of Skills, Project Portfolio and Network! And together, will create your Personal Brand in the Workplace.
The promise of the brand
But ultimately, what is a Brand?
A brand is a promise. And a promise commands trust.
For example: think of the last personal care item you purchased for the first time because you knew about the brand. You didn’t have to test it before paying for it. It was from a brand you trusted, therefore you put your money on the counter.
Of course, this is an oversimplified example. But the approach is similar in the workplace.
When promotions or salary increase approvals are on the discussion table for top management, what will set 2 people fighting for the same opportunity apart? Who will they trust?
Will it be Average Joe who knows Excel? Or will it be You, that person they personally know of and witnessed doing something meaningful for the company?
Hard one, right?
Or: How can you influence people to stop handing you assignments that you outgrew? To stop giving you projects that utilize a skillset assigned to a job you want to transition out of?
Maybe by influencing them to think of your other skills first? And p.s. those “other” skills should be strategically defined, to be the exact foundation of your next role.
Or: How can a hiring manager trying to fill an internal opportunity trust someone whom they haven’t had a long working relationship with before?
Will they have time to start testing every applicant on the job? Or will they directly choose YOU, the person they heard of to be really skillful?
The thing is when you, when I, when WE take control of our narrative and start influencing what other people know about us, that’s when we will see true traction in our career.
Because a personal Brand is actually leverage.
No, I am not handing out any solutions right now. But I wanted to take this time and frame why it’s important to take advantage of the right opportunities in the workplace.
Note: A version of this presentation was delivered to set the stage in sharing internal development opportunities available within my organization