In putting together an innovation team at my last job, our boss asked us to go through a Strengthsfinder evaluation, which provided us a map of the skills and strengths that the team possessed. The idea was that we could see where we were strong and where we might not have all the resources or perspectives that might be required to face different problems and challenges. After we took the test, we compared our notes about the findings and realized that there was not a lot of overlap – most people had differing sets of identified strengths. Here we were, a group of people with one shared mission and very similar job duties, but we possessed widely varying attributes and skills in how we delivered value to the company.
This situation made me think about how rarely we stop and recognize the unique skills and abilities of our team members. And how that ‘village’ of talent comes together to create such incredible business value, based upon that underlying patchwork of powerful personal brands, working together and complementing each other. Looking around my team with fresh eyes, I gained new appreciation of those varied talents, and could recognize clearly how each person had brought their own unique perspective to bear on our projects.
Carving out your personal brand at work starts with identifying who you are, how are you different from others (in the most awesome ways possible) and how do you want others to see you. To stay competitive and be the best you can be, you need specific strategies that can elevate the visibility and value of your personal brand. Here are some thoughts about how to stand out at work for all the right reasons:
Identify your core expertise
Most people do not have a clear vision of their value at work, probably because they have accepted their job description as their destiny – the full definition of what they offer. This attitude is just a habit, however, and you don’t want it to stunt your growth and progress. Instead, choose to develop your own unique selling proposition and figure out what unique value you add to the company in your role.
Spend time thinking about what you are authentically passionate about, and how those passions can be integrated to your personal brand. Do you have strong technical expertise, excellent project management skills or strategic consulting expertise? Perform a SWOT on yourself and try to identify your core strengths and factors that distinguish you from your peers. Hire a coach, or work with a friend, and do your best to become crystal clear on what you want to be known for.
Get noticed for good things
Having a strong work ethic is great, and a key foundation of a strong brand identity. But you’ll want to make sure that you find ways to demonstrate your working style that make a strong impression. Like arriving a meetings before they start, closing your laptop during meetings, or ensuring that you deliver proper credit to supporting teams and contributors when presenting to groups. Actions speak louder than words and in the workplace it gets noticed real quickly when you consistently deliver your work with some special quality or expertise. It allows people to ‘map’ what you’re bringing, which can boost the popularity of your brand, and increase your market reach. Your visibility at the workplace should not only be restricted to your achievements and accolades but to the overall value that you as an employee brings in to the company. Remember, it’s not bragging if all you’re doing is talking about what your real value is.
Leverage social media
Consistently using social media is another way of brand building at workplace, because it’s an easy way to extend your reach. Apart from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, companies these days are deploying other web based enterprise social media platforms like Yammer, HipChat and Slack etc. An ideal case would be to be active in all these platforms by adding value, sharing content, writing blogs, and networking with people. Do take care when sharing information on workplace social media, however, as you want to abide by any policies your employer has set up.
Reputations are built on trust, respect, and filling unmet needs, so if you can stay focused on how you can be amazingly helpful you’ll soon find that you’re a rock star in your community.
Network in the real world
Networking isn’t a dirty word! It’s a mistake to think about the process of expanding your sphere of peers as just attempting to curry favor or beg for help. It’s not. Networking is nothing more than socializing and connecting with people – something we all do anyway. It’s just more deliberate, so it ‘feels’ like work. But our collaborative work culture and offices located all over the world demand a strong network and a consistent effort to reach out to people from other teams, to explore possible synergies. So the trick is to recognize that while you’re not trying to ‘work’ people, you do need to practice networking as a habit so that you form bonds across your company, and stay in touch with these new connections. But there are ways to do it without giving up your humanity in the process.
- Volunteer for new initiatives and projects. You never know what project could open up opportunities for new and powerful connections. Look especially for projects that demand cross-department or business unit collaboration. Those initiatives have the most potential for you to build a wider network and gain greater exposure across the company.
- Keep the focus off yourself. It may sound counterintuitive when you’re trying to promote yourself, but if you place your mindset into understanding what other people you meet might need in order to be successful, you won’t feel as self-conscious and can make a better impression.
- Don’t focus on exchanging business cards, which can feel too formal and impersonal. Instead, make sure that you have the right access to be able to contact the person again. Reaching out after a first meeting helps solidify who you are and cement your brand to your new connection.
It’s getting more and more important to carve out your own niche at your workplace. To be able to function at your best, both you and your team need to understand how your particular ‘village’ of talent works. Take control of your brand so that others can truly see you and all that you have to offer.
- How To Review Your Personal Branding Progress
- Be More Creative At Work: Unlock New Perspectives
- Do You Need A Coach?
Yooniko (a brand of Metamorph Corporation) is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.