Building and Projecting Your Professional Brand
The term “professional brand” is thrown around frequently these days when it comes to job searching, career advancement, and business opportunities. As is the case whenever a term begins to become trite we want to be careful that the original impact of its meaning doesn’t become lost or mushy with overuse or misuse. Ever since 1999, when Tom Peters launched the use of brand to encapsulate the worker migration from corporate cog to independent provider of value, one’s professional brand has built substantial importance and cache.
Part of the workplace adjustment brought on by the Great Recession has been the intense need for workers to distinguish themselves in face of heavy competition for fewer jobs. It’s a buyer’s market for employers and to get noticed in the sea of applicants requires job searchers to communicate their worth and focus more than ever. The good news is that managing one’s online presence with social media and other means allows professionals to disseminate their brands very efficiently. The challenge for many, of course, is knowing what kind of brand message to project.
It all starts with identifying your value proposition. Being able to summarize your skills, competencies, and in general, what makes you a valuable asset. Your unique value proposition serves as the basis for your brand and for how you expressive yourself using all of the communication means at your disposal. Try containing this message in a short paragraph of no more than five sentences. This will discipline you to articulate your worth economically and pointedly.
Another concept that helps you to button down your brand is to consider your personal mix of talents, experiences, aptitudes, values, and proficiencies that make you who you are. Separate yourself from the herd by letting stakeholders know the one-of-a-kind package of qualities that you are made of.
Once you have determined your professional brand you are then ready to market it. Be specific in presenting what you are good at. How are you better than your competition? What kind of mid-level manager, or salesperson, or engineer are you? Can you point to achievements that speak to your effectiveness? Getting the word out to your industry about your expertise through various web-based and face-to-face networking means increases your chances of coming out on top.
Be ready to direct and manage your carefully crafted message, especially online. Make sure that there isn’t conflicting information about you that could confuse or, worse yet, turn off those searching for you. You’ve worked hard making something of yourself and there is still more growing to do. You take pride in all that you have accomplished to date, so don’t hesitate to shout it out loud. Your future ambitions will benefit from the effort.