Recently, I was asked to speak to a group of newly hired, post-graduate, young professionals within the Appirio organization. A quick aside, Appirio’s onboarding program for newly hired, recent graduates is aspirational and robust. These young professionals are so fortunate to be in an environment where vast resources and talent are dedicated to their success. In my short time with this group, I was asked to talk about and answer questions surrounding how your personal brand influences your professional brand. This kind of conversation is right up my ally. Your personal brand IS your professional brand.
We all have a personal brand. Our personalities, background, education, aesthetics, culture, interests, strengths and weakness all inform what the brand is and the potential reach that the brand has. While we live in a culture that is label resistant, brands are important to help others classify where you fit in their world. As a marketing company, we have this identity dialogue conversation with our clients about businesses daily; however, similar logic can be applied to individuals.
Your professional brand is not exclusively clinical. It’s not just WHAT you do; but HOW you do it. Never underestimate the importance and balance between hard and soft skills.
There are certain qualities about yourself that are unchanging. These traits are unmovable facts. Embrace these things. Of course, we all mentally, emotionally, spiritually and professionally evolve- but at the core, we’re not flipping the script. We are who we are. Particularly as a young professional it can be challenging to reconcile who we are with who we think we should be in a work setting. There are some people who are inherently exceptional code-switching chameleons; but most of us aren’t that fluid- at least not without stress and strain.
When building and establishing your personal and professional brand, it’s important that you’re curious. You should constantly be asking yourself questions and seek understanding about what you like and what you don’t like (and course-correcting the things that you might not be fond of). You are solely responsible for your career fit. There are countless careers and places of employment. You’re never stuck! You are responsible for finding a place that works with you and for you. So, with that in mind- make sure that you’re accepting employment in a place that you WANT to be.
Successful branding is all about proper alignment and messaging. You’re responsible for where you are and what you’re doing there. If you don’t like where you are, it’s possible that you’re not signaling the right message.
Here are some things to consider as you’re building and concurring your professional brands:
- Do you know who you are?
(Not what you think you’re supposed to be, but do you know really know who you are? P.S. It’s okay not to know this, particularly earlier in your career, but it’s not okay to accept the unknown as the answer. Pursue the questions early and often.)
- What motivates you?
- What drains you?
- What are you uniquely positioned to do that you think you can do the very best?
- Where do others have to pick up your slack (consistently)?
- Who compliments me best?
- Where am I collecting compliments?
- What do you want to be known for? Is it realistic and obtainable? How committed to it are you?
- Do you need endorsements or certifications to validate this brand?
- Can you communicate what your brand is effectively and concisely?
- Do others validate you by asking for your input or help?
In today’s professional world, (depending upon your vertical) it’s less about the jeans that you’re wearing and more about what you’re bringing to the table. Never forget that your brand isn’t just who you appear to be on Instagram and LinkedIn, but how you show up in person- how you handle people, challenges; your communication style and how you make others feel along the way. Personal and professional brands aren’t created in a bubble, they are formed over time through experiences, influences, and pressure. Enjoy the ride!