Building a Personal Brand

Earlier in the series, we discussed the impetus for creating a personal brand. We also introduced the ARM technique focusing on Attention, Respect, and Monetary value used in the degree to which the name is perceived. However, building a brand is a journey and a destination. Regardless of where one is in their career journey, one has to focus on making a reputation for specific areas of excellence continuously. The key, however, is not just building it but letting others know about it. Mostly, if you don’t put the limelight on yourself appropriately, you will be left in the dark and remain unseen!

 

Image Credit: http://www.hectv.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/MTB-1406-Austin-Kleon.jpg

It is not enough to be good. In order to be found, you have to be findable.  -Austin Kleon

When people are thinking of a person to solve their problems, bring opportunities, or address their challenges, is your name popping up during their search in the meeting? Recall that they may not be doing a search on the Internet or asking Siri or Alexa to do their particular quest to find the person but only lobby for the person they found! Will your name effervesce to the top of their mind immediately where they will not feel that their recommendation will not be met with reprehension, fear, or inhibition on their choice of you as the “Go To” person?

Often, when a need arises, or a recommendation is laid on the table, the decision makers are factoring the following three critical attributes in their mind.

  1. The first attribute is “Character.” If there is no integrity and ethics in one’s operating principle, people don’t prefer that person. 
  2. The second attribute is “Competence.” The way one focusses on continuous improvement over time on their own initiative and demonstrates credible and repeatable performance becomes the healthy soil in which opportunities grow.
  3. The third attribute is “Capability.” Even when one does not have exposure to a specific industry, such as Life Sciences, or a particular business function, such as Marketing, people look for one’s capability to rise in a diverse and innovative learning mindset.

 Be Your Own Consultant

Once the 3C’s illustrated above have been fulfilled, how does one create the spotlight? Building a Personal Brand goes beyond the position in front of the essential stakeholders. An individual needs to be their own consultant removing every obstacle possible for the nomination to be turned down! This approach requires building a credible voice and image for others to experience the personal brand. Several areas can become relevant but in today’s fast-paced and digital world, here are a few simple areas to build your voice. How many of these are you doing now? If not, develop your checklist!

  • Develop the Elevator Pitch to be able to give a 1-, 2- or 3-min speech about yourself. Articulate your own voice.
  • Keep the online profile accurate and current. For instance, if one has a website capturing the accomplishments and certifications, keep them current. Even if one does not have a website, keep the LinkedIn current.
  • Monitor the online Resume. Depending on the positions or roles one wants to focus, ensure maintaining the online resume with testimonials attesting to the accomplishments over time. Bursts of recommendations at the time your referee or you are leaving the organization do not build credibility. Continuous successful performance over time is the foundation for credibility! It comes in handy for those that want to be a strategic or technical consultant, speaker, etc.
  • Keep the social media profile in check. Every post, like, comment, or share on the social media add up to the “character” and “competence” that you build silently. Be prudent.
  • Instead of seeking a job, look for a role. Frequent updates on the online resume about acquiring new industry certifications, attending seminars or webinars on areas affiliated to the relevant function or line of business, and volunteer positions held increase other’s confidence about your capability to enter an area new and still come out triumphant.

Develop Persona: Taking a Notch Higher

As one’s career journey progresses, one needs to look at other options to focus on continuous improvement further beyond the workplace training. Some of these include but are not limited to the following. Which of the following are you working on today or should be working on next?

 

Image Credit: Author presenting the PARAG approach to middle management transformation

While building the brand profile, don’t keep the brilliance to yourself. The knowledge that what one has gained through their own experience is only valuable if shared. Pay it forward for the community! There may be many others who may benefit from one’s knowledge and may not know what this education has to offer. So, raise the profile. You can do these by 

  1. Writing and commenting on blog articles consistently
  2. Writing a chapter or a book about your experiences
  3. Contributing to a body of knowledge within your professional association
  4. Speaking at a local chapter event
  5. Volunteering to engage in professional relationships

 

Image Credit: Author in a Training session

Create your own voice and be known for something that you are passionate about. Whether that is technical expertise, operational excellence, or strategic consulting, become known for the competencies by being involved in one or more of the following:

  1. Take volunteer leadership positions in professional associations
  2. Teach at community colleges expanding to add/modify curriculum bringing scholar-practitioner experience
  3. Mentor or coach new career professionals or students
  4. Offer training and share knowledge through webinars and speaking engagements

You may wonder if all these are possible. Like Muhammad Ali said, “Don’t count the days but make the days count.” Personal branding is all about making every day count! Personally, I have been blogging for the last five years (follow my blog at https://agilesriram.blogspot.com), writing at International journals, practitioner columns, volunteering at the local chapters of PMI, supporting the Agile Alliance, mentoring to people at NAAAP, doing training sessions on PMI certifications and agile topics, speaking at many conferences, teaching at colleges, and supporting other initiatives like the projecting leaders of tomorrow (PLOT – read more about it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyS_iXEH4OY). So, is it possible? Yes. Are you ready? Only you can answer that!

Summary

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a single day.” So, will your personal branding too! It will take time to build personal branding. Once built, Rome has been rebuilt in history. So, your personal branding should also be on a “continuous improvement” mindset! Repeatedly. With so many things changing the business landscape, the demand for new knowledge has been copious but not enough supply to absorb that knowledge continuously. Have fun building your successful personal brand!

 

Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Sriram Rajagopalan

Sriram Rajagopalan

Contributing Author

Dr. Sriram Rajagopalan has more than 20 years of professional experience with exposure to multiple industries. He currently works as the Vice President of Training and Organizational Excellence at Aptus Health. Previously, he worked in the same capacity establishing the Proposition Delivery and Program Management Office. He also established a Project Office in West Notifications Group. He has delivered numerous projects for clients such as eFunds, Northwest Airlines, CVS Pharmacy, Prime Therapeutics, US Airways, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and several pharmaceutical firms, such as GSK, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Astellas, Depomed, and Boehringer-Ingelheim.

Sriram received the international prestigious Eric Jenett award on the Best of the Best Project Management Excellence award in Oct 2017 and was also a finalist for the Kerzner award for process excellence in 2012. He frequently blogs at agilesriram.blogspot.com, has published peer-reviewed scholarly international journals, articles at Scrum Alliance and PM Network on topics related to project management, agile transformation, and about the TONES© and PARAG© framework to middle management transformation through self-initiated postdoctoral work. He is also an active speaker speaking about these topics in professional conferences.

Sriram also holds several professional certifications (PgMP, PMP, PMI-CP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, CSM, CSPO, CSD, CSP, IT Project+, ACC, SCM, SCPO, SCD, SAMC, SCT, CSOXP and Six Sigma Green Belt). With extensive experience in strategic project and program delivery, he promotes the scholar practitioner approach teaching as Assistant Teaching Professor at Northeastern University and University of Riverside. He is also an active volunteer at PMI Mass Bay having served in the capacities of Director of Speaker’s Bureau, Vice President of Marketing and Communication, and as a past-board member. He also volunteers at Agile Alliance conferences and is a mentor at NAAAP.

Sriram also engages actively in training project management and agile concepts including certification preparation through his own business, Agile Training Champions (www.agiletrainingchampions.com) and also in spreading project management as a discipline to younger children in schools and colleges through his initiative on Projecting Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) initiative (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyS_iXEH4OY)/

He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the University of Madras, India, Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Wayne State University, Michigan, MBA degree in Management from Concordia University, Wisconsin, and a doctorate degree in Organization and Management from Capella University, Minnesota.

 

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