If you’ve ever wanted to fast track your career, a great way to take charge is personal branding.
Many believe hard work is the answer, and hope their efforts get noticed. While it’s certain to help, there’s another way to stand out among your peers.
Maybe you graduated from a good school, near the top of your class, or have some great experience that could align you for that promotion down the road. Even if you didn’t make it to the Ivy League, we’ve been brought up to believe hard work is the only way to get ahead.
One problem with this approach is that it’s the common path. Your co-workers work hard too, and you’re competing at the same level. Should you work harder, or work smarter?
Branding, among its many traits, is also about differentiation. That doesn’t mean you should start wearing bow ties, but positioning yourself so that you do stand out. You can begin by demonstrating your potential with personal branding.
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
– Tom Peters in Fast Company magazine
One piece of the puzzle missing today, is what Dale Carnegie preached in the 1920’s. We need to truly be interested in people, and care what they think. In today’s world, we live in a very “me” generation, which is sometimes the wrong direction for getting others to like you.
“For a long time, parents discouraged their children from worrying about what others think. They didn’t realise how shortsighted and stupid that was,” says Mark Leary, a social psychology professor at Duke University. “We need other people to think well of us.”
Another part of the puzzle is knowing your strengths and weaknesses, which a lot of people choose not to accept. Studies show that when you ask a person their weaknesses, and those around them to name off their weaknesses, the answers are rarely the same. In other words, some people have no idea how they are perceived by others, or what to do in order to be seen as a greater business asset, or good choice to be put on the “fast track” in the company.
“The majority of kids coming out of college are essentially generic,” says D.A. Hayden. “They need key brand attributes and to be able to talk about them to employers.”
The ideal way to create your personal brand these days is through social networking with such websites as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Since there aren’t many places you can hide any more, especially online, good judgment is in order when sharing what you did on the weekend. Or it might just come up in a future interview for a job you really want. Instead of sharing photos of your latest shenanigans with friends, consider how you can engage with potential future colleagues to position yourself in the best light.
Each day presents a new opportunity for personal branding beyond the people you engage with on a regular basis. Why limit yourself to those within your personal network of acquaintances and co-workers? Networking with social media allows you to cast a wider net and increase personal brand awareness.
Consider starting your own blog, possibly writing about your industry. Get down to specifics and find your niche. By doing so, you’re on your way to positioning yourself as a thought leader within your area of expertise or interest. Rather than blogging about a hobby, use the opportunity to work on something that might have an impact on your career later.
Almost as important, try contributing to other blogs and websites and sharing your knowledge. By doing so you will allow you yo build a name for yourself.
For a while you might find it challenging, and even wonder whether it’s all worth the effort, but allow me to assure you it is. Those that stick with it often reap the benefits of their hard work. It’s those that keep at it that improve their chances of gaining any recognition.
How might this help your career you ask? By building your personal brand around your career expertise, you’ll also develop a name for yourself. And it’s those that persevere that have a better chance of controlling their destiny.
Now is the time to start building your personal brand. It’s a way to show your knowledge and expertise, while everyone else has their head down hoping their hard work pays off. Sometimes it’s more about what you say than what you do.
With some work, and a little luck, you could create demand for yourself in the future. And since branding takes time to build any association with the name, there’s no better time than the present to get started.
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