I recently encountered a brilliant friend and former colleague of mine who is known for being very good at her job. Leave anything in her hands and you will be sure that it will be done to perfection. Over coffee, she shared her frustrations that a lot of us, including me can easily relate to. My friend has been working for this organization for quite some time and she wanted to now move to the next level. As luck would have it her immediate supervisor left the organization, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to seek for a promotion. Shock on her, the senior leaders did not believe she was qualified enough to handle this open position. Yet if they had investigated, they would easily have found that she managed a bigger portion of the department’s workload while her supervisor was around.
So, what went wrong? And how many of us are like my friend? Brilliant at what we do, yet Anonymous?
My friend is not unique. A lot of us operate from a place of anonymity and this is true whether in business or in the workplace. We want the world to automatically acknowledge our greatness, yet everyone is busy toiling towards their own objectives. The result is we live in a situation where only a few people close to us know the true extent of our capability, our expertise and perhaps our influence.
And this is where Personal Branding comes in.
Simply defined as ‘how people see you’, personal branding is useful irrespective of whether one is an entrepreneur or in employment. Whether we like it or not, there is a perception that is created about us and it is up to us to shape people’s world view of us to our advantage.
But what does Personal Branding look like for an employee?
Marketing Gurus will tell you that your efforts will be a total waste of time and resources if you do not identify and speak directly to your target audience. One of the very important dictates of Personal Branding also requires that we fully understand our audience very intimately.
As an employee, the audience to be addressed is both within and without the organization
Within the organization
It’s not just your boss who needs to experience who you are… your team members, your boss’ bosses, and peers all form part of your internal target audience. The value you bring to the table must be visible to all the relevant stakeholders for you to fly above the radar.
This doesn’t mean that you should start being a nuisance showing off and bullying everyone around you just to get ahead. No! If anything, this will kill you faster than a bullet will. Instead, start your visibility journey in the organization by having a conversation with your boss (I hope you have a good one), while at the same time, taking advantage of the many other strategies that exist to get yourself visible in the workplace.
External to the Industry
As an individual, you serve a particular industry and one of the main objectives of Personal Branding is to establish yourself as a trusted authority to your industry connections all with a particular end goal of meeting your business objectives. For example, if you are in sales, your business objective will be to meet your sales targets while if you are in HR, your business objective could be to showcase the organization as the best employer to job seeking candidates and so on. Of course, to gain from personal branding and maximize on your business agenda, you must be proactive with your content, providing a relevant stream of information and ideas that adds value and brings out the expertise in you.
With these 2 audiences aligned, your perceived value will be magnified to a level that allows you to #Standout4Growth. Only then will you be able to negotiate for the promotion you seek with confidence and get it!
My friend unknowingly chose to stay hidden until it was too late. But she can still position herself for the next available opening in her organization. There is a wonderful case study by Joel Garfinkle with a similar storyline to my friend that reminds us that it takes more than hard work to get noticed.
Do you have lessons from your own journey that you can share with me? I would love to hear from you.