Professional Brand: 4 Steps to Create Your Own

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Alice Walker

The first time I heard about personal or professional branding was the beginning of this year. I decided that I needed to make it one of my goals for 2019 when I spoke with my new manager about personal and career development. Now I feel like I am seeing this phrase everywhere in the job industry, like it’s a video gone viral. When I found out that my company was offering a workshop, I was excited to learn more about it. I work in a corporate biotech industry and had started at entry level, slowly taking steps toward growth in my career. After 5 years, my main focus was to become more visible and become a force.

AWE stands for Advancing Women Executives. This organization holds professional workshops occasionally at my company. The current rates of women in senior leadership in America today (direct level and above) is 14%. AWE’s mission is looking to increase that percentage.

Brandon Maslan is an Executive Coach and Corporate Trainer within AWE and was our speaker. He did mention the the fact that he was a man, and said if he happened to “man-splain” anything then we can just call him out. Brandon knew how to command a room and get us to feel confident to volunteer and speak to our neighbors. He said he’s never spoken to a room as big as ours, so he definitely had to structure the workshop differently because some people don’t want to volunteer in front of 200 other strangers. He has expertise around brand management, personal empowerment, leadership development, and career guidance, but what set him apart was how personal and funny he was. His reasons for doing what he does are the women in his life: his inspiring mother, incredible wife, and his “badass, opinionated” daughter.

“For a professional brand, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what really matters is what you’re gonna do and how you can utilize what you’ve done.”

This is how he sets up the workshop. There’s no right way to do this, there’s only your way. And the earlier in your career you put thought into it, the more successful you’re likely to be.

Brandon went over topics like networking where he compared it to being like a host of a party and your goal is to meet everyone and make sure they’re having a good time. For introverts, like myself, they are usually great at it even though they may feel uncomfortable. It’s because they listen at a higher level. Listening is what helps us become present in a conversation. He says there are 3 levels of listening.

Level 1 – We’re not really listening, we’re just waiting for our turn and interrupting your turn.

Level 2 – Asking follow-up questions to about what they first stated, and then asking another after that. However, be careful with being annoying, which bring me to…

Level 3 – Energy. Know your audience and feel the room. Are they bored? Are they interested? Some great examples include Terry Gross and Conan O’Brien. Level 3 listening is what makes a great leader.

He talks about how women are over mentored but under sponsored. So we need to do our best trying to turn these mentors into our sponsors. What he means is you want them to give you advice (mentor) but you should also give them your own advice as well. The more you give, the move you share, and the more likely you’ll find the people that will say, ” I love those ideas, and I want to help you” (sponsor). Now you’ve turn them into a sponsor!

“Use your brand, know who you are and what’s powerful about you. Show up in that space because when you do, you’ll be virtually perceived that you have this executive presence.”

Another career tip: Use “I” instead of we. It’s not about taking credit from others, it’s about giving yourself credit for what you’ve done. Now let’s get on the the meat…

What is a Brand?

Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other seller’s. Distinct is important. It is unique, it is the only, it is specific to you. It can be you and no one else.

What makes you great at what you do? What’s going to help you get to that next step up? What makes that next step up great?

Two ways to create a brand:

  1. Invent a new job
  2. Get to the next step up in your career.

To discover your brand, talk about your goals, past, and present.

Past = Your performance, feedback, and successes.

Present = Your skills, roles and responsibilities, verifications, and languages that are currently existing.

Steps to create a brand (2nd way to create a brand):

  • Step 1: What is your next career step? (Future) Be specific about the job title, tell the truth, and be confident.
  • Step 2: What are the skills that make that next career step successful? (Past and Present) List the skills necessary to be successful in the role you’ve chosen. People leader, providing feedback, communication, strategy, influencer, etc.
  • Step 3: What are the successes you’ve had that aligned with the skills in Step 2? (Past and Present).
  • Step 4: Combine Step 2 and Step 3 and add additional personal/unique information about yourself.

Your next steps are to bring it to your manager and work on it together. Your manager can use this statement to help you get to your goal. When it’s completed, add it to your LinkedIn profile.

Here is my own personal example of what I wrote as current amateur blogger. (1st way to create a brand)

I aspire to be a professional lifestyle blogger. The reason is that it isn’t necessarily the title but it’s what I’m passionate about – the ability to create an impact. I have created connections with people as well as other aspiring bloggers buildng a community. I’ve been consistent with my goal of sticking to a schedule of writing informative and inspiring blog posts, and promoting them on different social media platforms that include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat. I’ve assembled a supportive and empowering team by finding our clear common purpose, goals, and identity for our blog. I want to use this work to create a positive experience, a better world, and happier lives for everyone.