The concept of branding yourself should be a familiar one – you probably think about it as something that public figures do to shape the way they are perceived by the masses.
But what if you’re not a public figure and you don’t care about what the masses think about you? What if you’re a professional in a technical field who wants to shape how people in your industry think about you? Do you need to know how to brand yourself? The answer is a resounding YES.
Branding yourself – or rebranding yourself – is about controlling the way you are perceived and positioning yourself in a way that will help you achieve goals. As a senior partner at Lucas Group placing technical professionals, I have identified several unique elements of branding yourself in small technical industries. Here is what you should know:
You already have a brand (even if you don’t know it)
When you work in a small field, you already have a reputation. You need to think carefully about how you are already perceived before trying to establish a personal brand, and it’s essential to be honest with yourself. Ask a few trusted colleagues for adjectives they would use to describe you and what they consider to be your strengths. If any of the answers surprise you, give some thought to why that is the case.
It’s important to manage your expectations if you are trying to alter the way you are perceived. That takes time and consistency, but it’s well worth the effort.
Take care of yourself
Technical fields can be demanding and stressful. But bringing positive energy to your work is one of the best things you can do for your personal brand. Colleagues pick up on negative energy even when you think you’re hiding it. Make the time to exercise, spend time with your family, and pursue hobbies. By taking care of yourself it will help you to be someone people enjoy being around – and someone people want to work with.
Always take the high road
There is an old Russian saying, “Do not spit into a well; you might have to drink from it.” In small industries, word spreads fast. Treating people poorly, improper resignation, and being combative in the face of conflict will always come back to bite you. You want to be someone known for providing solutions, not creating problems.
Don’t over apply to jobs
When it comes to applying for jobs, less is more. If it gets around that you are applying to jobs all over the place – either because you are uploading your resume on job sites or emailing loads of people – that is negative branding. It reads as desperate, it calls your skill set into question, and it decreases the likelihood that you will be compensated properly once you get an offer. Be discreet and selective during a job search.
Focus your initial branding efforts internally
In most fields, you would start building a public profile with social media, blogging and networking events, then work your way up to white papers, articles and speaking appearances. Small, technical fields are a bit different; you have to earn the opportunity to appear at networking events and to put your name on papers and patents.
Focus your efforts on becoming the go-to person for solutions within your company first. Volunteer for special projects. When you are sought out with technical questions, invest your time in talking to people. When you have great ideas, run them by people. By driving discussion, you increase your visibility. Managers will reward you by including your name on patents and asking you to attend special events – and that’s the beginning of branding on a larger scale.
Remember that a personal brand has to be continually reinforced to be effective, so stay consistent and watch your career blossom.
What other techniques have you used to brand yourself? Share your tips and tricks.