Personal branding has gone from a hotly debated subject to a well-accepted career-building strategy in recent years. One piece of the branding puzzle that is often overlooked is how personal branding can work for you in your current work environment.
Entrepreneurship is great, but it is not the only path toward professional success. Crafting a great personal brand and using it in the right way can make be the differentiating factor that moves you from being seen as a “great networker” to an “excellent asset to the organization.”
To better understand how intrapreneurs can leverage personal branding, I reached out to Cassandra Walker Pye, a veteran communications and branding expert with over two decades of consulting experience.
One thing that employees tend to struggle with is where to draw the line between personal and professional brands. Would you advise employees to have brands completely separate from their employers?
Walker Pye: Brands are almost always connected — they rise (and fall) together, like ships. So, it’s important to know your own brand strengths and gaps, and that of your employer’s.Â Once you know where the strengths and weaknesses lie, it will be much easier to get your main talking points down.
It is also important to tie your brand to peers and leaders in your company. This isn’t just about “name-dropping” — it’s about tying your own skill set and strengths to those of your associates. As I said, brands can rise together.
How can I strategically connect my brand to my company’s brand?
First and foremost, be thoughtful. What constitutes a brand? For me, it’s strengths, competencies, values, style and qualities. Think carefully about your own brand. List out the traits associated with your brand, and then list the ones that are connected to your organization. Where do commonalities exist? Where do you complement each other? Use this information to determine where and when you can effectively bring the two together.
The places where you see commonalities will give you clues as to how you can tie the two brands together, and the value that everyone seeks (employer and employee) comes from this connection.
How can I use my external brand to advance my career?
The first rule of thumb is this: the more people who know you and say great things about you (or your company), the stronger your brand becomes. The key is to be the one in control. Craft your own brand traits; don’t let anyone dictate it for you.
Construct your own narrative and evaluate it against your daily actions. You have to embody this narrative and be authentic. Over time, colleagues and supervisors will see you acting out your narrative as you go about your daily activities (personal and professional), and your brand will begin to speak for you.
Once you have reached this point, the hard work is done. All that is left is maintaining consistency. If you consistently live your brand, there will be points when it will align with your company’s brand and you will be rewarded for creating value. The beautiful part is that you will have effectively created value on both sides, for yourself and for your employer.
James S. Walker (@jaywalk1 ) is a global digital manager on the Nature Conservancy’s international digital marketing team. Intrigued by how social and cultural insights connect people on a global level, Walker has completed long-term project assignments in China and Mongolia, and chronicles his thoughts on the industry via his blog, PR Prescriptions, and Website, Socially Diverse.