You spend your days promoting others: creating bios for partners and associates; showcasing the latest practice group publications, verdicts, and settlements; and positioning your firm in a crowded marketplace to create opportunities and drive brand awareness. But when was the last time YOU promoted YOU? Defining and promoting your personal brand is critical to creating a career path that will open new doors for professional and personal growth - because let’s face it, aside from your mom and maybe a good recruiter, nobody is going to promote you except you!
According to WikiHow, “A ‘personal brand’ is in many ways synonymous with your reputation. It refers to the way other people see you as a business owner or representative of an idea, organization, or activity.” A personal brand reflects who you are, what motivates you, and which values and principles you stand for. It starts with defining a professional image that mirrors your reputation and how you want to be perceived, and continues with a manageable program that reinforces and validates your message.
Social media – both professional and personal platforms alike - provide socially acceptable forums for self-promotion. You are able to showcase positions and responsibilities held, as well as professional recommendations, volunteer work, leadership in professional associations, examples of your work product, awards, and scholarships, among other things - all in one neatly contained place. And for marketing and BD professionals, how you brand yourself is the first, most basic example of the work you are capable of.
To be most effective, it is important to shed the notion that a personal brand is only needed for a job search. Social media platforms are scoured daily for a variety of ideas and information by:
• Nonprofits or industry groups seeking board or committee members
• Conference planners seeking speakers or presenters
• Journalists looking for sources
When you join a board or committee, speak at a conference, or are quoted as an expert in a news story, you have further promoted and validated your professional brand. You are “walking the walk,” as they say - leading the discussion, contributing to the conversation, and viewed as leading among your peers.
Defining and promoting your personal brand is an investment in YOU that will pay off for years to come. Take the time to identify your long-term goals, and the traits and characteristics that will smooth your path to success. Then sit back and watch the fruits of your labor go to work for you.
By Michelle McWhinney, Founder of Navigate Recuiting, LLC, for the November/December 2014 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.