In a conversation with a senior management client it was interesting to observe that even with their list of impressive and significant accomplishments they were very reluctant to talk about them, even admit them and certainly not willing to put them down on paper or share them as a way of promoting themselves at work.
And this was even though they were looking for that next project or promotion.
Working for a large Fortune 500 company where a strong internal profile and personal brand is key to getting the next opportunity or promotion, it surprised me that no-one had even shown them how to do it - authentically.
This was their dilemma. How to brag without appearing brash, arrogant or just plain big headed?
Here are 10 ways that you can market your talents, build your personal brand at work, without feeling unclean or sleazy!
1. Know exactly what it is you do to or for others. You must be able to express this in a very short, memorable sentence, so that when people have a particular issue that you can solve they immediately think of you. Most 'branders' will tell you it has to be 12 or less words, some say 7, some even say it has to be 1 !!!! When I present a page full of company logos every audience can immediately tell me the top brands taglines. Whatever it ends up being, make sure it's impactful.
2. Make it impossible for someone to say no to you after they have met you. If you have managed to do all the hard work and gained someone's attention, make sure that you provide them with enough that they feel they cannot leave the interaction without wanting more. This might mean another meeting, a request to follow up or to see a portfolio of full presentation.
3. Don't shy away from what you love and what it does for others. If you are not passionate about what it is you do, if you are embarrassed when people ask, then its draining and negatively impacting on all that you do. Find something that connects with your values and delivers a difference. This is perfectly possible in a corporate environment.
4. Do not be like the cobbler and his children. Quite often I hear the phrase "Typical, its like the cobbler who's children have no shoes....." I will admit it, even I am guilty of this sometimes. Does it not make sense that if you are in marketing you have great examples of your campaign success? Or you can present facts and figures in an understandable format if you are in finance? Or you sit in a meeting with the latest technology if you are in IT?
5. Do more of what you are good at, leverage your talents. What are you particularly known for, your unique ability? How can this be weaved more consistently in to your everyday actions? Become known for something that proves to be invaluable, because then you are. What Marty Neumeier calls a "Charismatic Brand - A brand for which people feel there is no substitute."
6. Not everyone knows what they want, help them. Everyone is overwhelmed today - too much e-mail, too many choices, too many requests on their time, not enough resources. Be sure of what it is you can do for people, then ensure that you tell them and then demonstrate how that is going to be useful to them. If they can see the relevance the decision is made.
7. Attach the emotions, let people feel the connection. Make someone sit up and take notice about your talents by making it real - make an emotional connection for them. Be more emotive in describing certain examples of the situation before you got involved, the challenges faced, the feelings associated with those problems. And then the feelings and outcomes after you were able to help with your talents. Tell a story. Then people can feel connected to you, what you can do for others and be mindful of that when they hear of others in a similar bind.
8. Do not leave anything out. It seems to be human nature to ignore or take for granted what we are uniquely good at. I see this all the time with people and their strengths. After all, it just comes so naturally that it is not a strain, isn't that the same for everyone? Well no it's not. Do not leave anything to chance, ensure that people fully appreciate all of your value.
9. Be ready for the judgement. There can be a degree of jealousy from some angles, others will want to see you fail or will judge you harshly. Be ready with an effective response or be strong enough to stay with your beliefs and convictions.
10. Build your brand - everywhere. Ensure that all you are doing, saying and communicating is a reflection of how you want to be known, and that information is what you want others to know. By the time they actually reach you then you have got them at Hello!