Personal Branding 201: Make Experience Work For You

Personal branding is a buzzworthy phrase that has significant applications to the corporate world. And when people discuss it, they typically are focused on an audience of college-aged or young professionals who are starting their careers. But what if you are a seasoned, experienced professional…can you still benefit from a personal branding refresh? Absolutely.

Personal branding is about you and your reputation – it’s how people get to know you (a LinkedIn profile, a published article, an industry presentation). It’s the hallmark of who you are and the quality of the work you represent. Ask yourself the following questions (and be blatantly honest with your answers) when you consider your personal brand.

  • What do people say about you when you leave the room?
  • What do you want them to say?
  • What do they currently say?

If the answers aren’t what you want to project and you have been working for an organization for a while, you may not be cultivating your brand as actively as you should. Personal branding is not something that can be built overnight, so you need to be thoughtful about what you represent.

Moving to a new role within your current organization

So as you contemplate your next career move, what role do you want next? If you are happy with your organization or industry, it might be simply tweaking your current social media profiles to reflect current responsibilities. Have you found ways to lead within your team? Now is the time to publicize yourself as a subject matter expert within your organization. Is there an internal employee online forum where you can share how you solved a problem or presented an innovative solution? If you have numbers that show a dramatic cost savings or efficiency, those results should be announced.

Moving to a new role within the same industry

If you are already seen as a subject matter expert within your organization, then it is time to engage with other thought-leaders in your industry on professional social forums. Branch out on your LinkedIn groups and participate in professional associations. Volunteering is a great way to get your name out there AND get to know the movers and the shakers within the industry at a local level. All of that networking can help you find a localized role or help you learn about growth culture at various companies.

Moving to a new role in a new industry

If you are looking to change industries, then consider networking with (and following) influencers and industry thought-leaders in those fields. Comment on blogs or social media posts and offer your unique perspective where appropriate. Your ability to make connections and look for commonalities/strengths can be a leg up to getting a role. Working with an organization where innovation is a priority and keeping learning at the forefront of your development means you can be well-positioned to change industries. Take some time to pause and listen to the conversations out there and contribute appropriately.

Reconsider your elevator pitch; make sure it highlights your past successes and explains how you are evolving your focus to a new industry. People with strong personal brands make learning a priority and demonstrating an ability to grow and learn is a component to your success. This is how your personal brand can evolve over time: remaining curious, careful planning and networking, all while making sure your reputation is the best it can be.

Finally, let people know you are ready to make a career move. Contact well-connected members of your network (or re-establish old connections), research, apply and interview for roles where you meet the advertised qualifications. But remember, your personal brand isn’t all about you; it’s how you can help others.

Personal branding takes time and dedication. A strong personal brand can help you find new career opportunities and can help add value to every assignment or project you undertake. Continue to evolve you and your brand will follow!

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