How important is your personal brand? As an entrepreneur, it’s everything. But here’s something you may not know. For job seekers looking to advance a career, a dynamic personal brand is often what separates hard workers from those who get promoted. Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t easy. But keeping your head down, staying productive and even excelling at what you do isn’t always the fastest way to the C-suite. Top companies today are looking for something more.
Superstars differentiate themselves from the pack, and companies can’t live without them. Whether you’re looking to move forward in sales, jumpstart your marketing career or transition into management, the competition is stiff—and it’s the details that set you apart. A personal brand helps define who you are. Done well, it shows why you are great by showcasing your strengths and highlighting the value you bring to the table.
Branding is about developing an image—your professional reputation. After all, you are the CEO of you. Take the time to plan and focus on what you stand for and develop a strategy for success. Here’s how to create a killer personal brand that will help you land that well deserved promotion.
Track past accomplishments, while gaining new skills.
The great things you’ve done in the past make up the foundation of your career brand. Have you mastered the art of the cold call? Are you a pro at using design software? While it’s essential to showcase past accomplishments, part of growing your personal brand means gaining new skills. Ask for challenging assignments at work and seek out volunteer opportunities. If you’re still in school, look for meaningful internships.
Be aware of your reputation: reinforce the positives, fix the negatives.
Are you seen as ‘quiet and hardworking’ or ‘jittery during presentations’? Be self aware of how others perceive you at work and reinforce good attributes, while working to change negative ones. There’s nothing wrong with being quiet and hardworking. But if you’re looking to get promoted, it may be time to come out from behind the curtain and showcase your abilities.
Maximize educational opportunities.
While most jobs look for some educational background as a baseline, more and more companies today are choosing skills and hands-on experience in lieu of a formal degree. Skills based educational opportunities like bootcamps are popular for a reason—they work. For example, SDR certification can boost your personal brand in a way that helps put you front and center at sales companies looking to promote from within.
Market yourself online and off.
If no one knows about you, you’re not going to have much success with career advancement. The good news is, you can promote yourself in ways no one else can. At work, don’t assume your boss already knows about your accomplishments. Be sure to communicate at your annual review and any other appropriate times throughout the year. Consider building your online brand as well through a personal website. Create content that showcases your knowledge, author blog posts on medium and don’t forget to share across multiple social media platforms.
Do the work.
Like Woody Allen said, 80 percent of life is simply showing up. If you want to be top of mind, then put yourself front and center. Attend professional conferences related to your industry, volunteer for projects and voice your opinion when asked to. By continuing to show up and doing the work, you create the opportunity to demonstrate what you are capable of to those who matter.
Network, Network, Network
What people say about you is more powerful than almost any other career building tactic. What your network of friends, colleagues, and yes, even past bosses say about your accomplishments and skills is invaluable. Remember to seek out new professional organizations as well as online communities to continually grow your connections.
Personal branding success comes from finding your purpose, overcoming mental obstacles and hustle. It’s completely natural to be worried, even frightened of what lies ahead in your career, but don’t let self-doubt slow your game. Instead, be aware of it and use it to fuel your drive forward. Surround yourself with people who maintain a positive attitude and use them as a support system to keep moving in the right direction.
Remember, if you don’t brand yourself, others will do it or you. But once you’ve started building something great, protect it by strengthening and reinforcing it regularly. A fantastic personal brand showcases who you are. But to get there, you have to put in the time. The good news is, the more you do to cultivate your brand, the more successful you will be in your career.