Are you sabotaging your career growth?
I often say that your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s how you are perceived by your colleagues, associates, friends and acquaintances.
Often we think our personal brands are doing well because we do good work, but a successful personal brand goes far beyond technical excellence. Here are five ways you may be sabotaging your personal brand:
- Not positioning your personal brand effectively. Your personal brand is ineffective if there’s a gap between how you want to be perceived and how others actually think of you. Minimising that gap takes conscious effort and means that you need to have a strategy to position your personal brand so that you are known for the specific traits you want people to recognise in you.
- Not understanding your target market. You can’t build an effective personal brand if you have no idea who you’re targeting. Think about your objectives. Now think about the people who can help you to achieve them. They are your target market, whether it’s your peers, your boss, the EXCO team or a recruitment company. Once you’ve defined your market, start to plan how you can make an awesome impression, show them the value you can deliver, and find ways of consistently demonstrating your personal brand attributes to them.
- Being inconsistent. Consistency is actually far more effective than occasional flashes of brilliance. Think about areas of possible inconsistency in your career. Do you occasionally hand in fantastic work but frequently deliver sloppy work in between? Do you make great emotional connections with people at networking functions and then never follow up? Examine your behaviour, communications and interactions and ensure that you are consistently portraying your personal brand in the best light possible. You need to consistently deliver on what you promise to build a successful personal brand.
- Missing out on opportunities to embed your personal brand. The effort you put into marketing your personal brand will only give you results if it’s relevant and makes an impact in your target market. Every interaction is an opportunity to embed your personal brand, from how you answer the telephone to the way you behave at a networking function or the fact that you always go the extra mile on projects you’re leading.
- Being part of the crowd. Effective personal brands stand out from the crowd. Looking at what your competitors or colleagues are doing and trying to imitate them is not enough – you need to think about the unique strengths and talents you have and find a way to package those to deliver value to your target market. You also need to be prepared to take a stand on issues, even if it means disagreeing with the pack. As long as you can back up your argument with credible information, taking a stand may offer you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and be seen as distinctive.