She was whip smart. She knew her shit. She was at the top of her field. Had spoken at several industry conferences. She was her company’s go-to person. She was the voice of her company.
Yet when I asked her about her personal brand, the identity she was building beyond her role as Director, she looked back at me with confusion. My brand, she responded. “I represent my company so I don’t think it’s necessary for me to have a brand.”
Now I was the one giving her a confused look.
When it comes to your brand, whether you are gainfully employed or work for yourself, you need to have your own brand identity. Period.
Your brand is part of your value. It is made up of unique and special ingredients that make you who you are. It is the thing that sets you apart and distinguishes you among your peers. You bring your brand into work every day whether you realize it or not. If you're not sure why having a brand matters, read here.
In the ever-changing world of work, your brand is the one constant that stays with you no matter where you go in your career journey. As jobs come and go, markets fluctuate, companies restructure, businesses fail and restart – your brand is the one thing you will always have control over. Not having your own brand identity is like committing career suicide.
Some of the most prominent business leaders have created brands outside of their primary roles. Jennifer Risi, World Communications Officer for one of the largest branding agency's, Ogilvy & Mather is known not only for being a seasoned executive but is a regular contributor around topics involving women in business and the gender gap in Advertising. Bisila Bokoko, Global Business Woman & Entrepreneur, has expanded her brand as a global consultant to include philanthropy and even represents the Wine & Spirits industry with her namesake Bisila Wines. And lastly, our own beloved Oprah, queen of media. Her brand not only includes talk show host but actor, philanthropist, author, and spiritual leadership.
Think about your walk through life, your career path. Would it help or hurt your career to be known outside of your company for what you do? Where might you be pigeon holing yourself into one label, under one umbrella? How can your professional platform be a bit more inclusive of the other parts of you?
We are renaissance women, ladies and it's time we take ownership of the many parts that make us who we are to build our own legacy.
Here are five things you can do to start growing your personal brand and be known outside your company for what you do:
1. Build your speaking portfolio by speaking on topics that most matter to you.
2. Get published in your industry or start a blog to develop your thought leadership.
3. Join the board of your favorite organization or non-profit.
4. Start or volunteer in a professional group that supports your favorite cause
5. Write a book on your area of expertise.
Remember, your brand is the essence of YOU. Don't confine it to just the company you work for. There is so much more to you and your job is to express it both inside and out of the office.