If you’re not managing your own brand, it is being created by default by those around you. How comfortable are you with that?
Do you trust your co-workers, your boss, even your friends to be able to describe you completely accurately? To be able to identify your greatest strengths, your inherent talents, where you can be most effective and valuable?
I know in my own life, there have been times when I’ve had a revelation about how someone perceived me and thought to my self, “Really? After all these years, you haven’t realized that I’ve evolved beyond that?” Those moments highlighted disconnects between who I had become and how others around me still saw me. After the initial surprise and disappointment, I finally realized that the responsibility for the misalignment was more mine than theirs. After all, other people are busy living their lives, worrying about how others see them, and aren’t going to give a lot of thought to how they see others unless faced with a situation that confronts their long-held views.
But your personal and professional brand is the image people have of your ability to contribute, your value to the organization, your future potential. Are you willing to risk that past perspectives are driving how you’re seen in the organization? If you’ve never considered your personal brand, assessed what others think it is, or thought about the actions and words that convey your brand to others on a daily basis, then you have relegated your brand to others and their perspectives.
If, on the other hand, you realize the importance of taking your own image, brand, and what you’re known for into your own hands, you have the ability to proactively shift what people think of you. It may take time, but if it’s authentic to who you are, and aligned with what is important to you and where you are going in your life, it can be a transformative experience.
Consider a few potential “brands” that someone might have. Do you think these would be viewed differently, either positively or negatively, depending on that person’s role and aspirations?
- A protector of the organization when it comes to making decisions and taking risks; determined to “dot the I’s and cross the T’s” and highly ethical.
- A thought-leader in finance; using technology to bring business data to leaders’ fingertips so they can make informed and inspired decisions.
- An effective and highly organized driver who can take any project or challenge and run with it until it is fully executed.
- A connector and motivator of people through storytelling, empowerment and inspiration.
- A trusted “right hand,” accurately representing a leader in all situations to deliver results.
If you view yourself in one way, but others view you in another, how will it affect your ability to get where you want to go? Will you be considered for the jobs and promotions that will get you really excited? Will you be given projects that use your talents most effectively? Probably not. The reality is that you will feel under-appreciated, misunderstood, and uninspired.
Therefore, being aware of your brand and managing it proactively can transform how others see you, and open opportunities that are aligned with where you really want to go. It allows you a degree of control over your image, and establishes you as the perfect candidate for roles that are perfect for you. If done effectively, opportunities will seek you out, rather than the other way around because you will be known as the best at [insert your expertise or desired role here].
But if you’d rather be seen the way others decide you are or should be seen, by all means, don’t give your brand another thought.