How can I brand myself? is it even possible in a large organization? will it be frowned upon?
Well, you have your own “branding”, regardless of where you work and what you do. You are perceived in a certain manner by the people you come in contact with, and their view of you is determined by how you look, talk, act and seen by others
So even without giving it any thought, you are creating the brand of “you” simply by engaging others. But if you were to give this some additional thought, you would be able to identify the benefits of positive branding and you would invest the necessary efforts to maintain and improve your perception by others.
How do you start? well; like everyone else in the organization (with the expectation of the “superstars”) you start your life in the organization as another minion, faceless and identity less. With time you acquire friends (and enemies), people start to recognize what you do best and what you really shouldn’t be doing and they label you as such- the “go-to” guy for gadgets, the sports aficionado, the fashion maven etc. Notice that not all these are strictly work related, since people tend to notice your most striking characters and not simply your professional strengths. Also note, some people are known as “the lazy guy” or the “leave me alone Girl”. do try avoiding falling into these brackets, since changing one’s perception of you, even is entirely wrong, can be very difficult.
So let’s say you are the sports guy- what can you benefit from that? well, maybe nothing directly (unless you work at a football club), but you can gain tremendous social currency from this position, countless opportunities to engage executives and even an opportunity for organization -wide recognition (organization a company soccer game or fantasy-league betting game on the next world cup). Used carefully this can lead people to seeing other qualities in you which they might not have a chance to otherwise, thus benefiting you on a professional level. and third, people like to deal with people. This is true for closing sales and also for choosing who to promote. If there will be a situation where an executive will be forced to choose between you (a great guy who’s organized that game last year) and another guy (just some guy no one ever heard of) you might be luck, well, due to better branding.
So we’ve established that a decent branding can help you in multiple facets, but if you are not that into sports (or fashion, or cars or whatever) – how to you build a solid brand for yourself?
Here are some tips:
- Likeability – this is a key factor. Although you can be known for many things, it is far better to be considered a nice guy than the opposite. That does not mean you must accept to help with anything anyone asks of you (see next article), but even when you do decline, do so politely and you will be respected and liked.
- Saying no– That is counter intuitive to most. But if you just accept to help with anything you’re being asked you are likely to disappoint people and not be perceived as very professional. If you only opt to help where you can really make an impact your professional rating will soar while not hurting your likeability.
- Connector mentality– the more people know you and who you are, the better it is for your reputation and brand.
- Subtle, positive messaging- This is difficult for most people, as we were educated not to speak highly of ourselves and not to fish for compliments. But, that does not mean we can’t make sure others praise when we deserved it, and the more people say good things about you, there’s a greater chance others (who’ve never even met you) will feel positive about you. So no need to praise yourself, but make sure that when you do something notable others will hear about it.
- Owning your quirks- Sure, it might feel weird to be the guy who wears purple to work, but if you like it why not make “your” thing? Remember, being easily identifiable is important, especially in large organizations.
- Utilize internal communication means: every organization have internal means of communication- an internal blog, newsletter, company events etc. Don’t be shy and use these to make yourself known to others. If you are shy- write something, If you hate writing and love networking, take some volunteering role in a company initiative, and engage others.
These activities will increase your visibility and boost your positive branding inside your organization. But bear in mind that it takes time for your actions to bear fruits, and even a single negative incident can taint your reputation, so try to conduct yourself in a thoughtful manner regularly, and from time to time do something to boost your positive rating. In parallel, you can start working on your brand being recognized outside your organization- and we’ll explore this in my next post.