IS IT NECESSARY?
Branding has always been something i initially associated with a marketing department of a big organisation. Let me rephrase- the sales part of marketing team in a big organisation. Something i found completely cringe! but i have since learned valuable lessons.
Is it the the case for you as well?
What is Personal Branding in a work place?
A Forbes article by Caroline Castrillon describes personal branding as “the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you who you are. It is how you present yourself to the world”. I would add that it is the personal presentation that acts as a ‘business card’ you leave, when you meet new connections.
The development was slow and steady for me. The first steps were not intentional at all. I was creating a personal development portfolio as part of an academic module which involved writing my 5 year career plan and how i plan to get there.
The how included skills to obtain, where to learn them and how to learn them. I didn’t think or include how to present myself at the time. But it was a start, because it changed the type of jobs i started applying for at the time.
The Second change was, intentional after observing the industry i worked in.
What Are some of the Catalysts?
An Organisational Restructuring process forcing everyone to differentiate themselves?
Any organisation going through restructuring will look at efficiency of operations, processes and employees to make decisions on who/what is absolutely worth keeping. Naturally everyone starts to feel insecure about their position especially if there are more than 4 people doing the same job in any department. The stakes are now raised and there is an unspoken pressure to fight for the available position/s.
So the question one asks is – if people with the same job description are getting evaluated based on their work, who stands out as one that the organisation can’t afford to lose in the department or skilled enough to move between departments?
If the organisation’s decision was to conduct interviews for the remaining position, what stands out about you that you can quantifiably show as something that benefits the team and organisation?
So there was my first light bulb moment- same job with same job description, the differentiating factor is not only how you execute but your soft skills. I know a lot of people who have had to navigate this in the past few years.
What are your top 3 soft skills?
Choosing to the path of least resistance.
Given the example above and in any corporate environment for example, competition, although normal, can be heightened in this instance and you face people who will toxically live by the 7th Law of Robert Green’s 48 Laws of power. This ‘law’ says “Get Others to Do the Work for You, but Always Take the Credit.Use their skill, time, and energy to further your ambitions while taking full credit…”
Such people will stop at nothing to crush everyone totally by any means necessary. Most times its not about the position, its people who see their value by crushing others.
If dealing with such people is too much for you or you just want a fresh start, here is the question i thought to myself that would need an answer-
How would you justify the time you have been in the same job position on your new CV? If you have been in this role for 3 + years how do you quantify growth has has demonstrable results?
This question applies, whether the next step is getting a new employer , becoming an entrepreneur or moving horizontally in a flat organisation .You will have to plan how to package your skill set, experience and personal presence in a way that you can put your stamp on the new thing. A flat organisation is one where there is not much movement upwards therefore not many opportunities for promotion.
The Uniqueness issue
Here is scenario –If your department team had 4 or 5 people doing the job , and your boss needed some urgent help with something that would go to their bosses, and therefore their reputation would be on the line if any mistakes were made, who in the team would they ask? How did they gain visibility in being the person to ask?
or perhaps a more relatable question can be if someone was looking for something done to high standard, can any one you know (friend or foul) confidently say , ***** (insert your name) is the person to contact for that?
If there was a meeting where an input was needed from some one in a certain department , who would they ask and why (lets assume your boss is not in). How did people conclude that this person was the one to ask , out of a team that does the same job?
How Do you show up -The personal presentation issue
If people spoke to you for 5 minutes, without you describing what you do, what would be their takeaway?
If you left the room in a professional setting, what would people say about you? How would they describe you?
I went to a certain restaurant with a friend and we were told hoodies and shorts were not allowed(we were both wearing dresses)- what do you think they were trying to convey. caviat- being a person of colour lets assume the world is fair when making this argument okay
To answer this question, i will pose some questions that made me draw my conclusion, so hopefully they will trigger the same to you.
The Unwritten Rules of Personal presentation
What is the feeling you want to evoke when people meet you? what are the top 3 things you want people to say about you when you leave the room. If you had a chat with someone without explicitly telling them what you do, how do want them to describe you?
Have you ever seen someone open a can of coke and you suddenly became thirsty? yes its that! whatever the technical term is.
A lot of people say , it doesn’t matter how you look, its all about your work. A concept i agreed with for a long time until well…. let’s look at these examples.
If you had a meeting with someone who has been appointed as your lawyer for example, and they looked completely dishevelled, your first thought would probably be ‘questioning priorities .If they are not put together physically, most people will think…will they even put the case together appropriately? It does not always mean they don’t know what they are doing, but it creates a judgement that we all unfortunately make.
If you are a minority , you know the unfortunate reality of being judged at face value.
One tip i picked up from a friend who is neither corporate nor academia was watching how they build and maintain relationships with the richest and the poorest in equal measure. They have a way of communicating with people they sometimes don’t like or agree with in a way that their business is not affected at all. You know those people who make you feel that , you have their full attention and interest at all times?
They do stand their ground in 2 areas i know is important to them though.
If you are on social media be aware of your digital foot print. Even if you write a disclaimer that your views are your own and not your employers, its still a window on how you think. You don’t have to fake who you are, just be aware the people will receive you the way you present yourself to the world.
The Minority Report
If you ever heard the statement that minorities usually work twice as hard. You don’t know the depth of this until you experience it. This was another prompt for me to take control of my growth that is not attached to a particular organisation. I did not have the bigger picture at the time, but i knew 3 things
1- Don’t let the experience affect how you see yourself. (This is a big one)
2- Forgive, in order to create space for the person who has learned what not do (you)
3- Your identity is not attached to one post/job/job title
Let’s Narrow things Down.
In summary, the areas to look at in corporate are packaging and demonstrating (marketing) your technical skill set ;packaging and demonstrating the soft skills that are relevant to your goal and role.
One time i asked myself if i moved between 3 industries, or from employee to business owner or work for free, what are the things that stand out about me. How do i package myself in a way that embodies my skills, experiences, passion and goals?
My answer- Define what you are selling.Yes you are selling! is it knowledge, is it technical skills, is it reliability? ensure you pick one that sets you apart, like no one does it better than you. This is the area you can compete.
“ask for it and be prepared to receive it”