Personal Branding for Career Success by: Kelsey Herb, M.A.

Personal Branding, or the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers asFinKelsey_MG_0012
brands, is quite the buzz phrase these days. Take a moment to Google the phrase. When I tried it, I found nearly 60 million hits, many of which are books and blogs devoted to helping an individual stand-out as a star. A quick review of some of the top resources suggests that in order to differentiate oneself as a powerful influencer they first need to contemplate their values and aspirations then they can define a brand and start moving mountains.

This is a valuable starting point – especially for anyone who is just starting out, either in their first career or on a new career path – but it leaves you wondering about personal branding for someone who may already have an established career. Indeed, I found that these resources inspired more questions than they answered. Does a personal brand mean the same thing at the manager level as it does at the director level? What about in the C-Suite? Should the branding process change?

I reached out to a handful of colleagues with established careers in a variety of fields (consulting, education, business operations, communications, etc.) to get their perspective on this topic. The most powerful take-away from their responses was the call to BE AUTHENTIC. The general consensus appears to be that being true to yourself is the best way to define your brand and make a resounding impact on others. Responses highlighted that a person should reflect on “who I am” in their daily work.  Start by identifying a few adjectives that resonate with you.  At your best, what few words describe how you “show up?”  This, I would argue, remains true at all stages of your career. Build your brand around who you are and who you aspire to be. Then you can adjust the details to match your current career stage and environment.

I also asked my colleagues to provide recommendations for individuals who are young in their careers and looking to build a personal brand. Then I requested recommendations for folks who are established in their careers but still looking to build/enhance their brand. Interestingly, the responses tended to be very similar. Themes that arose included the following:

  • Recognize your personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Know your value and share it with others
  • Build your brand around your passion

Ultimately, these responses suggest that whatever your career stage, self-awareness and being true to yourself are the cornerstones of building a strong personal brand. Once you have this framework, you can augment your brand by customizing your style of dress, touch points (e.g., social media, personal interaction, conference presentations, speaking style, etc.) to fit your goals and interests at any given career stage. Look for incongruence in your delivery across mediums.  Behaviors, voice and packaging should all align.

This leads to shifting away from simply submitting a resume, to providing access to a number of personal brand assets, thus giving job seekers better odds of standing out to potential employers.

How Our Viewpoint and Self-Identity Shape Our Approach to Business

By: Suzanne Miklos, Ph.D. 

I completed a business growth course in December provided by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.  The course offered a wonderful opportunity to connect with other small businesses.  We immediately recognized that both our stated and hidden opportunities and challenges were the same and that we were all bound through entrepreneurial spirit.  It was powerful to see the leadership and determination that shepherded many of these businesses through the great recession.  I recognized that my professional identity was bound more by my doctorate in I/O psychology and my work in executive talent development than in being an owner.  It created space for me to nurture a lesser expressed part of me.  I have no doubt that this self awareness will change how I invest in growing my business in the future. 

This same experience was shared by many of my fellow graduates who described themselves as accountants, builders, service providers or manufacturers.  They now call themselves business owners. This shift in view represents an expanded, crystallized view of self as leader; and it can change everything.  In executive coaching, we focus on how what you observe leads to what you see and don’t see.  I often give the example of my bird crazy chocolate Labrador Retriever who will miss seeing a rabbit right in her path for the sake of looking in the trees for a bird.  When we look at ourselves and our possibilities differently, new options and actions appear.  From my perspective, this is a very powerful part of the class. 

When leaders become inspirational, organizational architects, they spend their time differently than when they are key workers in their businesses.  Rather than working in the business or on pressing customer issues; they spend time working on the business strategy, structure and processes. Putting together a business model that can deliver the highest value to customer’s means looking at how processes currently deliver to the client.  If you took a blank piece of paper and designed key delivery systems from scratch, are they operating optimally?

People processes are much the same.  When it becomes clear what kinds of skills and capacities are required to execute the value added process, a fresh look at the organizational design, key roles and key competencies is needed.  Matching the hiring of new people, training of existing staff and performance management that connects people’s efforts to goals is strategic talent work.  All large organizations periodically review processes and organizational design to continue adapting to the external environment and evolving internal strategy.  Many of them have staff to help but the process is essentially the same.

It is enlivening and empowering for leaders of small and mid-size businesses to take on a true leader role and put time and intention to designing their organizations.  It is not just for CEO’s of Fortune 500 firms but a high value activity for all CEO’s. And when you ask a Goldman Sachs program graduate what they do for a living, I own a business should be the answer!

What Happens with Vegas…

Recently, Thrive Magazine, a Publication of Summa Health System, featured an article about our very own Mary Demastes (that’s Suzanne’s Mom)!  It is a wonderful article about Mary’s exciting and very generous volunteer work with WAGtime, Summa’s dog visitation program.

Read all about Mary and Vegas’ experiences helping others heal happily!

WAG to go Mary (and Vegas)!

Vegas_Demastes Article