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Strengthening Your Personal Brand

May 25, 2008
What is your personal brand saying to others? Getting bigger promotions, better clients, and a richer career depends largely on how you are perceived by senior managers, team members, peers, and potential clients or employers. So to maximize your career opportunities and get into a career that actually inspires you to get out of bed in the morning turning cartwheels, let's start by polishing up your personal brand.

1. Understand your value

Having a powerful personal brand means that you consistently deliver what you say you're going to deliver. In other words, it's the skills, experience, and value that you provide to your employer or clients. Whether it's bringing in new streams of revenue, managing highly valued projects, developing creatively outrageous marketing campaigns, or whatever, your career is fueled by the value that you consistently deliver to employers.

Your value is a unique blend of your strengths, professional accomplishments, and personal characteristics (such as being a good leader, risk taker, problem solver, strategic thinker, etc.). All of these things combined make up your "value package" which makes you truly unique from a crowd of colleagues, business associates, and even job applicants.

2. Get into a career where you can thrive (not just survive!)

Being in a passionless job is a career killer! If you're walking around dull and listless (like the Clairol Herbal Essence girl before she shampoos her hair), then others are sure to see you that way. It's impossible to have a powerful personal brand if you're just going through the motions at work. You need to be in a career that challenges you, flexes your professional muscles, and excites you!

Think about yourself three years from now. Do you want to be working for the same company, or the same clients, doing the same kind of work that you're doing today? If the answer is no, then think about what you want to be doing. Start by identifying the three key ingredients you need in the work itself to be happy and fulfilled such as leading teams, working on creative projects, developing new technologies, etc. Once you've defined the three key ingredients that you need to be excited in your job, then do whatever it takes to drive your career towards that vision.

3. Send the right messages

Everything you do and say sends messages to your manager, senior managers, clients, peers, and potential employers. Your words, actions, presentations, reports, work deliverables, and professional accomplishments, shape the perceptions others have about you and the value you provide.

So you should take every opportunity to send a very clear message that you are a high quality and results-driven contributor. Talk about the successes of your projects and teams, and the benefit they're providing to the company. Talk about the obstacles that your team overcame, and the lessons learned. This is where you are an asset to a company or client. When you send the message that you consistently deliver something of value to your employer or clients, you are not only creating a powerful personal brand but you are also developing an emotional connection in which they feel that they need you.

4. Network strategically

If you want bigger promotions, better clients, and a richer, more meaningful career you need to work with (and network with!) people who value and appreciate you. Otherwise, you'll be living in a frustrating world, spending precious time and energy to accomplish things, yet receiving very little in return.

Focus on creating a strong support system of what I call, career influencers. These are people who can hire you, promote you, inspire you, teach you, and open doors to new opportunities. Identify those managers, clients and colleagues who know and appreciate your work and nurture your relationships with them. Keep them updated on your professional accomplishments. Ask about their career path and strategies for blasting through challenges and roadblocks. Seek out people who can give you the roadmap, guidance, and inspiration to advance your career.

5. Think of yourself on a stage

Think about how you want others to perceive you. Do you want to be recognized as being smart? Strategic? Having specific expertise? A great leader? Whatever it is, you should be striving to send that message loud and clear.

Every day you have opportunities to shape and manage your personal brand. In every presentation or update that you give, in every meeting you attend, in all your conversations with other professionals - think of yourself as being on a stage. It's your opportunity to shine and get noticed.

Powerful personal brands don't happen overnight. It takes time, focus, and commitment, but the payoff is huuuuuge. Imagine a world where you wake up and actually start turning cartwheels :))
About the Author
Sherri Thomas is President of Career Coaching 360, an international speaker, and author of "Career Smart - 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand." Career Coaching 360 Career Coaching provides career planning, management coaching, and leadership development support to help professionals change careers quickly and easily.
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