This last recommendation links to the discussion that Richard Havers and I had yesterday regarding the dangers that specialists see their area of expertise as a solution to any problem.
In Saturday’s final session for my Guildford group studying the CIPR Advanced Certificate qualification we considered career development – starting with a personal SWOT analysis and moving into the area of managing ourselves as “brands“.
Discussion centred on how others see us with a gap analysis between current and potential perceptions. The idea being to build “brand you”.
We discovered a lot of hidden talents and concerns, such as how to alter perceptions when you have been promoted from a junior or administrative role. Here we considered the value of knowledge and developing an area of expertise, looking professional at all times and challenging (in a positive and polite way), any terms others use that are potentially derogatory.
For example, instead of being seen as the “life and soul of the party”, we rephrased this to be “skilled at making others feel good”. It may seem like presentation, but first impressions as well as our own behaviour are influenced by language.
Another consideration was the way people react to our voices – sounding “too posh” was felt to imply being unapproachable, where “being a bit chavvy” was also a barrier. Agreeing that we shouldn’t deny who we are, it was felt that adopting a professional tone was important, but also taking time to show that we are able to laugh at ourselves and have fun.
We also looked at establishing some personal “brand icons” – aspects of our personality, behaviour or interests that act as symbols to our personal identity and enable us to stand out from others.
As an example, we agreed that one student would build a brand reputation around her multi-lingual abilities by placing dictionaries on her desk rather than hiding them in the drawer. Making a virtue of this strength would be a positive icon for her brand.
Another student is very creative, making place names for events she organises at work for example. We considered how she could develop a personal brand by including her name on the pieces. So rather than being an invisible talent, she will build a recognisable brand.
Thinking about your strengths and how you wish to be perceived also develops confidence and puts you in control of your career plans. Your knowledge and skills become more overtly recognised as part of “brand you”. And when networking, you can ensure that people remember you in the right way – for the strengths and brand assets you will convey.
If we are good at public relations, then the best place to start is developing and managing how others see our personal brand. Especially given that having a strong reputation or brand identity helps justify the premium price that competent young professionals derserve to achieve for themselves.
Greenbanana is one of my personal brand icons – I’m also known for my high heels, Mercedes sportscar and connections in motor industry PR.
What are your brand icons – and how do you use them?