At PMforTODAY, we have built our company brand on the value of a “Personal Brand”. Our mission is to provide the infrastructure for our Contributing Authors to share their knowledge and build their personal brands. It is something that we believe is a key differentiator for a variety of areas of our lives and our careers.
Recently (11/17), I had the privilege of being selected as a speaker for the 2017 PMI PMO Symposium. This was a major step for me in my personal growth and also for my career growth. Personally, I am passionate about sharing knowledge. I am a firm believer in both formal and informal mentoring efforts, and look for opportunities to share the knowledge and experiences that have been shared with me, or that I have learned through practical experience over my career. While talking to people about Project Management / PMO has always been exciting for me, it was a scary thought to consider putting myself out there to think that I could be a speaker at an event where I attend with an expectation of learning so much. How could I contribute to people that were teaching me so much? But yet, I was constantly challenging people to take the chances on activities to build their Personal Brands, and that was part of what was the catalyst of starting PMforTODAY.
When a couple of my peers turned it around on me, and challenged me to submit a speaker’s proposal for this event, I initially thought they were crazy. Who was I to potentially stand up in front of 100 of my peers and try and teach them anything? When I looked at the theme for the Symposium, I felt like there was an education track that I had considerable experience in and could add value to, but why would they pick me over so many other qualified candidates?
But I did it, and with the help of some friends, (Bill Dow / Karl Hallgrimsson), I turned in a submission to speak, with a synopsis of my message, and a one-minute recording of me speaking on the topic. To be honest with you, I was nervous as heck, and did not think I would be accepted. But to my surprise I was, and not just for the speaking opportunity that I had submitted for, but I was also selected to facilitate a knowledge hub session on a second topic. Now the challenge began. I had to build a presentation, submit it for formal review, make the changes they requested and resubmit.
I again drew on the skills of others by asking them to review my presentation and let me practice presenting to them. Recording my session and asking people to critique it. I took it seriously, as I was going to be standing in front of a lot of people for an hour, sharing knowledge and experiences with them. Talk about an instant reflection of your Personal Brand. What would I do if people started walking out part of the way into the session? What if only 10-15 people came, even worse, what if nobody came? Then to make it even more nerve wracking, when the schedule came out, I was scheduled during the “Offsite Excursions” section of the event. That meant people could choose to go to an offsite location, like the Houston Space Center, or sit in a room and listen to me. I convinced myself I was going to be lucky to get 20 people at my session, and prepared myself for that.
The date of the Symposium arrived, and I’m in the room, preparing myself for the presentation, and with about 10 minutes before the start, there are about 15-20 people in the room. I was excited, thought I had my audience, and was content with the attendance, convincing myself that since I was not a well-known speaker, or author, that this was success for me. Then it happened. In the five minutes before the event started, people started flowing into the room from multiple doors. The room filled up fast, going from a very small number to nearly 90 people in that time frame. Then it hit me, the realization that the audience had an expectation for learning that I now had to deliver on. My whole perception of the event changed in a heartbeat. I went from thinking “friendly conversation”, to “how do I meet their expectations to learn something?”
So I took a deep breath and started my session, nervous as hell, and rushing my message because I was afraid I would not be able to meet their expectations. After a few minutes, a question was asked, and I answered the question to their satisfaction, and for some reason that changed my personal perception of my abilities. I relaxed, finished my presentation, and spent the rest of the hour, as well as another 40 minutes after my session ended, answering questions from attendees of my session. I had done it, and from the words of the people who attended, I had done it well.
So, you see, while I lost some trust and faith in myself, and my abilities to meet others’ expectations, the ability to be successful was still there. I just needed to relax and trust in my own abilities to share the knowledge that has been shared with me.
My personal brand had been established, and now it was being shared. The times that I wrote articles, led meetings, mentored others, and been mentored myself, was all there, looking for an opportunity to be put into practice. That investment over time took me to a great place. One gentlemen even sat with me at breakfast on the last day of the conference and told me that he was “stalking me”. He had enjoyed my first session so much, that he intentionally attended my second session, and then was looking for me at meals and networking opportunities to talk and wanted to ask if it was okay if he communicated with me post conference. That’s what it’s all about. Knowing you made a difference in someone else is the value of investing in your personal brand, and getting the opportunities to share what you know with others. Don’t let those opportunities pass you by!
Are you willing to step out and let your Personal Brand take you on your next step?
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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Co-Founder: Project Management for Today
As a Co-Founder of the pmfortoday.com website, Don Clarke has over 20 years of experience in the Project Management / Program Management space. Having worked for a variety of companies over the last 20 years, he brings a strong base of knowledge in the industry. Establishing or helping redefine multiple PMO's during this time, there is a unique perspective to his approach to developing the value of a Project Management Office (PMO), as well as his approach to leadership development within the organization. Having been privileged to have multiple career defining mentoring experiences, Don realizes the importance of sharing that experience and giving back to the organizations where he is engaged.