Over my 20+ year career, every year it seems there is a chorus from leadership of “You need to Build Your Brand," or as we frequently hear in consulting, “You need to Be Known." Over the last few weeks after having several conversations with my team on this topic, I’ve realized these remarks are not any more familiar than they were 20 years ago. People nod while at the same time quietly questioning, what do I do? How do I get started? What if I get known for the wrong thing?
Should I have coffee with as many people as possible? Find a big initiative to put my name to? Join everything in order to be noticed? Over the years, I have had the opportunity to help people down this path, and I find a slight change in language offers more clarity, and becomes more personal and relatable: I coach people to “Find an Interest and Share."
Find an interest – Pick something that motivates or excites you; that has you searching online or wanting to know more. Expect it will evolve over time, but get started. For me it started 30 years ago in college I found myself interested in a CX foundation as I pursued my Sociology degree. I was so intrigued by how environmental influences could adjust and impact behavior. I was told it was a ‘party’ major, but I knew it would be relevant. No matter what you choose, or what others think, if you find something you connect to that drives and motivates you, you will drive to stay actively engaged. Even when you are at your busiest, your interests will become a priority.
Explore to build passion – Your interest will send you on a path of exploration – articles, online trainings, and communities. You will spend time to gather information to round out your thinking and start to build a perspective. Because you are exploring something you enjoy, you will be excited to engage with others; to discuss and share your thinking. You will look for varied perspectives to strengthen or challenge yours. In my career, I have always sought jobs that focused on experiences. I explored this interest, found people who supported and challenged me and sought out their perspectives. As I grew comfortable sharing my thoughts and having my ideas challenged, my confidence grew and my passion formed. Passion develops with confidence.
Share the passion – with confidence comes a desire to share more extensively. Lean into this— write a blog, host a discussion in your office, find a community to engage with. You are starting to share your passion and likely doing this with an ease and enthusiasm that is becoming more natural, comfortable and inspiring. Consider the last time you spoke to somebody truly excited about something in their life. Their excitement was contagious! You were engaged, leaning in and contributing to the conversation with your own personal experiences, and you remember that person because of that passion. I feel fortunate that I have a job that supports my passion, that allows me to research and reimagine experiences for people, that works to make a difference for people and companies, and it’s extra sweet that my parents admitted “I was so right about my degree”. I am known for CX and am passionate about it. Passion ultimately becomes an extension of who you are and how people identify you.
If you follow your interests, people will start to “know” you for something that you truly enjoy. You will influence, inspire and motivate others authentically. It will continue to evolve, but over time it feels less like work, and becomes more a personal journey. So tell me what you think and share your perspective – I am interested and welcome other thoughts!
Image courtesy of wocintechchat.com.
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