How do I become more successful in my career? How do I create that sticky professional brand for myself?
If you are asking yourself this, or if you are working towards revamping your career trajectory, I can tell you that personal and professional branding goes farther in your career than your technical skills will take you. After a point in your career, your technical skills are given- people look for other things. And people look for experts.
Professional branding is one of the most crucial things that you will do in your career that will set you apart from your peers and will make you stand out in your industry. And it is something that I, to be honest with you created, quite unintentionally, for myself. But the effects have been just so overwhelming, that it's worth sharing.
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I’m sure you see quite a lot of people out there who seem to be knowing a lot of things. Their names come up in your industry over and over again. And you have no idea how they got there. Actually, this happened to me- I started speaking to some of these influencer. And I realized that I know so much more than these people in areas of my expertise. But I wasn’t doing what they were- I saw that these people were actually getting out of their ways, and standing up for themselves in places where I wasn't. And to be fair with you, I truly am not great at doing this myself even now… But the industry awards and recognises you only when you put your name out there- you have to go and apply, you have to go and ask for nominations, you have to go and get nominated for these awards. And that is one of the best ways that you get known in the industry. It is a marketing exercise.
There are other ways that you can actually find your personal voice and your personal brand. But it always starts with the why. If you have been around me for some time you realize I always ask, why is it that you want to create your personal brand? And who are you willing to serve and be? What's your identity? What do you identify as? And who do you want to be identifying as three years from now, five years from now?
Because you want to ultimately make a personal and professional brand that is sticky. And once someone finds you and puts a label on you, it is difficult to change that label unless you are willing to start over completely again, right?
My top suggestion is to find out who you are at an identity level, and understand who your audience is. Who is it that you want to stand out to?
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For me, historically, maybe it was recruiters. These days, it's more about how do I get to meet the people that I want to meet in my industry, and be really thought of and looked at as a thought leader. And that might mean multiple things.
One is taking a spot in the leadership conversations, taking charge of what I talk about in the technology landscape, taking charge of what I put out in the media, on podcast interviews, and those are great opportunities to have actually real life conversation where you let people understand what you are about, well, I can be on the list of top women in tech. That's great. And that is something that you could do.
But unless you are talking and speaking openly and publicly about what it is that you believe in, you don’t have skin in the game.
Why is it that you need to be considered as a thought leader? Be very intentional about creating your personal brand, and then once you do that make it sticky. Make it so sticky that people whenever they think of, as an example, AI or Cryptocurrencies or Personal Development, or whatever is your niche, they think of you. And how do you do that?
You need to keep repeating the same thing over and over and over again, to your audience and also to yourself because actually when you do that, it defines and shapes your identity in that brand as well. And when your identity is solidly defined in this brand, you tend to become more and more confident in being the person in owning your brand.
And of course, you know, my little love for affirmations. It's the same thing. You keep telling the same story over and over and over again. And one day, your mind actually believes it. And I'm not saying that it's not true, but sometimes all of us face imposter syndrome and self doubt. Those are the days when these help the most.
The next thing is, keep networking. Network with people, not with this ulterior motive of “Oh, God, I need to gain something from this person.” But actually, with the motive of “How can I help you today?”
And if you know me, you know, this is my approach to networking, I always start with how can I help you? Is there something I can help you with and the more you tend to help people, you see that doors open up for you, even without you asking for them to be opened up? And that's what I'd say, helps your professional brand grow the most.
Because the first rule of building a personal and professional brand is “Don't be a jerk”, right? That's the easiest way to grow your personal brand.
And do your research. What is it that you want to be getting out of your personal brand? Where is it that you want to be going with your career, and then invest in that space, if you know that you want to spend the next 10 years in AI and ML, it probably makes sense for you to talk at some conferences, it probably made sense for you to appear on some podcast, it probably makes sense for you to network with a bunch of people who are in that space, write a couple of blog posts, increase your online presence, LinkedIn, Twitter, talk to a couple of journalists, and you'll see that that personal brand has a snowball effect. After a point you don't have to do anything. It just keeps growing and growing and growing because of all of those assets you've put together in one place.
And that is the beauty of automation and putting some intention behind how you create and craft something. And that is the power of marketing as well. Call me what you will, but marketing is the single most effective way to cut through noise. And good marketing helps people- you have all of the knowledge in the world. But if you are not heard, what use it to the world, and if you want to be helping the world, you have to be good at marketing. That's what I always keep telling my students. I keep telling my mentees and that's what I'll tell you as well, that don't underestimate the power of marketing and personal branding.
And if you need help, drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.