This inspirational quote from Dr. Seuss reminds us of the importance of being ourselves. This lesson from childhood applies to personal branding in the workplace today. In this article, part 1 of a 2 part series, I share my personal branding experience and explore the need for managing your brand in positively impacting your career. In part 2, I will discuss some of the keys to managing your personal brand and how do you leverage social presence effectively to elevate your brand.
Your personal brand is about who you are and how you want to be known both internally within your organization and externally in the marketplace. In a way, personal brand is something that comes to mind when people think of you – personality, core values and beliefs, education, skills, hobbies and interests, and ultimately the differentiated value you can deliver.
Another year is upon us. Around this time last year, I took the time to evaluate my personal brand, consider the attributes that made me uniquely me and assessed how my brand aligned to the corporate strategic objectives and market brand. It’s easy to make the mistake of ignoring the importance of personal brand for career development. Initially, you do question the need for personal brand – “I know what I do, what I am good at and the areas I need to improve.”, “My work is my personal brand. Why do I care?” Your brand is more than what you do. Your personal brand isn’t what you think it is; it is actually what others think of you. It’s about taking the necessary time to think through your brand, reflecting on your purpose and vision, asking others what they think of you and how you would like to be perceived.
Now that a year has passed, I realize the importance of taking a deeper look at my personal brand and creating a personal brand equity plan. Sharing that plan with my career advisor, friends and mentors during the year helped me refine my value proposition and uncover the focus areas for my brand development. You own your brand and are responsible for managing that brand. Let’s take a look at the three factors that drive the need for personal brand.
When you take the time to evaluate your personal brand, you develop self-awareness about what makes you unique, your alignment to the corporate goals, your strengths and the areas for improvement. We have a great feedback culture at West Monroe through “Upward Feedback,” “Project Review” and “Multi-Rater feedback” which provides valuable insight in shaping our personal brand. Increased self-awareness through feedback is a fundamental cornerstone of learning, personal growth and, most importantly, improved performance.
Your brand helps to differentiate yourself from others who might be in the same role as you. For instance, a technical developer that brings a combination of business and technology skillset and ensures what is built is aligned to the business needs of the client is a real differentiator for us in the marketplace. Social identity and presence can be used to your advantage in order to communicate your brand in the external marketplace. A blog post is a great opportunity to document your point of view on current topics of interest and demonstrate thought leadership.
Your actions need to be aligned with your personal brand and the way you would like to be perceived by others. Living your brand is an ongoing effort and something that needs to be reviewed and managed on a regular basis. If I want to be looked upon as someone who engages in community activities, I need to be on the board or committee of a not-for-profit organization in my area of interest, participate in community events and make contributions in ways that make a difference.
Back in 2012, the “Career Equity” initiative was introduced at West Monroe in order to facilitate open discussions about where individuals saw themselves longer term. “Career Equity” helps individuals think about how to build their career within an organization. It’s just as important to take the time to think through your long-term vision, purpose and the alignment of your current brand to that vision. It's equally important to be able to describe your value proposition in 30 seconds or less and what differentiates you from others. Introspection into these aspects of your personal brand can help uncover areas where you need to invest your energy or reach out to your mentors for further conversations about your long-term career aspirations.
You represent the organization you work for and your brand reflects the image, mission and vision of that organization. Your brand enhances said corporate brand and makes the organization appear more “human” and approachable. Corporate brand loyalty starts with your engagement and is something that can be achieved by aligning your personal brand to the corporate brand.
If there is an alignment between an employees’ long-term vision and interests to the corporate strategic objectives, they will be committed and fully engaged towards realizing those objectives. By aligning my personal brand to the West Monroe Partners’ corporate brand, I was able to see how my role and what I do aligns with the corporate strategic initiatives. The exercise helped me prioritize my time in the right areas and made me feel proud of being part of the organization.
At a high level, the process of personal branding involves reflection and introspection and obtaining feedback from others. You have to seek out external feedback to validate what you learn about yourself from the reflection and introspection. Taking this time to reflect and following that up with genuine and authentic actions is a great way to bring your brand to life.
In Part 2 of this series, I will share tips on how to manage your personal brand and leverage social presence effectively to elevate your brand.
Have you used personal branding to help develop your career? Share your story in the “Comments” section below. You can follow me on twitter and reach out to me if you would like to further discuss this topic and share experiences.
Have a BRAND New Year! Enjoy your journey of introspection and self-discovery.
Kaumil Dalal is a leader within West Monroe's Technology practice and has been with West Monroe for over 8 years. He works with organizations to help improve employee engagement, grow productivity and enhance customer experience by leveraging social, collaboration, enterprise content management and information management technologies.