How to Build a Personal Brand at Work
Consider this: There’s a new position in your company to lead a team overseas. Leadership is contemplating whom to select for this role, and you are one among them. In a meeting with them, you express your enthusiasm and talk about your past accomplishments to back their decision in your favour. Once you leave the room, how are they going to talk about you? “She is an empathetic leader”, or “She is a connector, she can leverage her network”, or “She is risk averse”. What are their perceptions of you? You might see yourself in a particular way, but how do others see you? This is your Personal Brand.
We at Lean In Bangalore had with us Ruchi Tandon, a L&D Consultant and Career & Transformation Coach who helped us understand what a personal brand is, and how one can build a brand in the context of the workplace.
Why care about a personal brand?
- It helps you stand out in the crowd — inside and outside the organisation.
- You inspire trust — people start to value the things you position yourself for.
- Protects you when markets are down and presents opportunities when markets are up.
“Personal branding is not just about showcasing your skills, it’s also about understanding other people and what’s important to them, and then projecting our brand in the right way” — Ruchi
How to Build a Personal Brand?
Here’s an activity we did to determine our brand:
Find the gaps between what you are know for and what you want to be known for; and work on those to get where you want to be.
To help in our journey of brand building, it’s also important to know what our personality traits are. Ruchi guided us through some common traits that define our brand. To know more about these in detail, you can watch the video here. What do you identify with? What do you want to work on?
Ruchi introduced us to the DISC framework — one that helps you assess your personality and behaviour.
DISC is not just a good framework to understand yourself, but also to understand other people’s style and how you can tailor your communication and connect to their style.
What type are you? Use the resources provided at the end of the article to do free online assessments.
Connecting with others at your Workplace
Connect with Leaders/Execs
When you’re going into a meeting where you will be building your personal brand, or your team’s personal brand; be very clear on what they are expecting. It doesn’t matter what you want to show, what matters is what they want to see. Having this expectation clear is a the most important part when connecting with senior leadership who are time crunched.
- You can prepare all the data and charts before a meeting, but if you can’t answer the question — “What is it that they are expecting?”, you aren’t prepared. The focus of the meeting has to be their purpose, not your purpose.
- Prioritise by impact — The language you use shouldn’t be about the effort — “we did this”, it should be about the impact — customer delight, results and metrics achieved, etc.
Connect with Team/Peers
Your peers may be your leaders tomorrow. It’s equally important to build a brand with them. Your network will take you a long way if you build it well.
- Have a mindset of ‘give and take’.
- Give gratitude and praise them in meetings.
- Build expertise and be approachable.
With peers, avoid saying “I disagree with you”, instead say “I disagree with you on this point”. — Ruchi
The onus is on you to build visibility — you have to promote your work.
We often think — “The work will speak for itself”, but we have to learn to blow our trumpet in a genuine and authentic way, when appropriate. Generally, as women, we have a tendency to not promote ourselves as much as we should be doing.
However, sometimes it’s ok to take a back seat when team visibility is more important than individual visibility.
How do you promote yourself?
- Take initiative and drive new things at work.
- Be an expert/go-to person.
- Talk about your success/impact in a positive and confident way.
Our personal brand will help determine the opportunities we get access to and the doors that will open for us. Be thoughtful and strategic about the elements of your brand. Keep taking feedback from your network to help you on your journey of building your brand. A good personal brand will help you stand out in the crowd and speak for you when you are not in the room.
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