In my personal branding coaching, I explain to people that to get ahead in their careers they need to stand out from the crowd. Most agree, but few know where to start.
The first step is to consider your personal brand – what do you stand for and what do you want to be known for? Think about what makes you distinctive in your particular space and what your competitive advantage is. This will drive everything you do in the workplace.
Next, start to think about practical ways you can differentiate yourself from colleagues. Here are a few ideas:
- Cut through the email clutter – pick up the phone. Everyone makes use of email because it requires little effort, but we all know that people are busy and a mail may just sit unopened in a cluttered inbox. While email is very effective in certain situations, like dealing with complex matters or sending specific details to someone, sometimes picking up the phone is the quickest way to get a response, and to stand out from everyone else. Replace some of your emails with telephonic discussions – it creates more of a personal connection and will enhance your personal brand in the office.
- Rethink your presentations. Do you haul out your stock standard slide deck for every meeting? Think about other ways you could convey your message. For example, telling a story is a great way to get people to connect with you and to highlight your key point in a way that people will remember.
- Become a visual thinker and communicator. There’s a reason that old adage rings true: a picture paints 1000 words. People tend to respond to images, so why not use them? It’s easy to include compelling images and video clips in your presentations, instead of cramming too many words on a slide. Try to reduce the words and up the images.
- Change the way you behave in meetings. Contrary to what many believe, the people who stand out in meetings for the right reasons are not those who talk the most or the least, but those who add value. Are you listening well or playing on your phone? Put your mobile device away, pay attention and you’ll be able to ask useful questions, make helpful suggestions and then summarise what’s been said at the end. I know someone who says nothing during a whole meeting and then at the end summarises what everyone has been saying with an action slant. It leaves an incredible impression.
You don’t have to make massive changes or do something wild to stand out – it’s about thinking about all the ways you can add value, highlight your strengths and make more impact in your job. Rather than focusing on how to beat your competitors, look at how you can up your own “wow factor” and you’ll be guaranteed to stand out from everyone else.