Troy Mathis knows how to talk. And he speaks in a way that makes you want to listen. His session -Make It Matter: Personal Professional Branding, at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit was high-energy, engaging, and inspiring. After listening to his presentation and going through the steps, I’ve come away with the realization that he was so effective in part because he knows who he is, and what service he provides. Troy is professional loud-talking charismatic trainer. And that’s his brand.
We are all familiar with the concept of brands and branding when it comes to consumable goods, or services. Ad agencies compete with each other and make huge profits from successful marketing campaigns, which further enhance brands, which is their promise to customers.
But what about personal professional branding? And I’m not talking about creating a digital file of your family crest. Branding is more than a logo, it’s the attributes of personality, look, service and the promise that you leave behind; it’s what you want people to say about you when you’re not in the room.
Personal professional branding can have a huge significance in the workplace . No matter where you work, in the simplest sense you are a business of one and it’s up to us to sell ourselves.
For better or worse, many influential people in our society have a brand. Kim Kardashian is known for her…assets. Steve Jobs is known for his dedication to personal computing and black turtlenecks. What are you known for? What are your defining actions that people remember you by? Is it visual, or is it how you act? What you do? There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to this type of branding, but it’s better to be conscious and define your brand instead of letting it define you. Choosing your brand through thoughtful reflection is a much more positive experience than having it thrust on you for some misdeed. But even if your brand isn’t currently positive, it can be changed through some strategic actions on your part. And if you don’t feel like you have a brand yet, it’s never too late to get started.
First, develop a design for your professional brand
How do you come up with a professional brand that represents the authentic you, but with room for growth? Mind mapping or creating a vision board is a good place to get started. List out what you feel are your memorable attributes, then add in areas where you want to grow. Be honest. If you only list positive traits then you are missing an opportunity for true self-reflection. You know what you want, who you are, and where you want to go.
Do you want an executive job that requires long hours in the office, a suit and tie, and formal meetings? Do you want to have a flexible schedule where you can work from home with opportunities to be creative? Is it important that you can keep your purple hair, or wear pj’s to work? Theses are all valid things to think through which will help you design your brand and what services your business of one offers.
Then, develop ways to mold and package your professional brand
Once you understand your personal desires and professional growth trajectory, look at your personal value proposition. What are you offering? Do an environmental scan and determine who your competitors are. If everyone else on your team has a graduate degree and you want a promotion, do you have the skill set to get where you need to go? Again, be honest. We are all hired into a job in on skills that often become outdated. It’s our responsibility to continue to improve our skills to meet the demands of the job, and to continually refine and improve our brand.
Finally, learn how to deliver your professional brand
Use the LAW, which stands for Look, Action, and Wording. What is the look that best supports your brand and fits with your organization’s image? Dress the part. If you deliver pizzas, you’d probably dress in jeans and a t-shirt. If you deliver babies you’d probably dress in scrubs. If you deliver presentations, you’d probably have to be flexible and dress to your audience.
What are the actions that support your personal statement and brand? If you call yourself a go-getter, you shouldn’t be late to work every day. If you are tech-savvy, you might want to make sure you have a grasp on the current apps and newer devices. Our world is continually moving, and you have to move with it by keeping your brand up-to-date.
The words we use are powerful. When you talk about yourself, as we all invariably do, use strong words from your mind map coupled with actions that you have completed. Where you work isn’t the point. It’s what you do that really matters. ‘I work at…’ falls flat when networking and does not convey the breadth of experiences you have or the depth of skills needed to perform certain functions. Let’s look at an example:
Hi, I’m a communication manager in a technology organization that supports local government services.
Hi, I lead communication activities to share our innovative technology platforms to connect residents to local county services.
Don’t tell how important or valuable you are to a company; show them with a story about what you do. That way your are furthering your brand without sounding arrogant or too self important.
We all have friends, or maybe we are the friend, who sees themselves personally as a triathlete, or a chess champion, or a master chef. To cultivate these images, these personal brands, takes time, commitment, and energy. The same is required in our professional lives, and will go a long way towards defining what it is and the promise that you bring to the table.