Branding yourself for career success

Dr Abhishek S Karmali lays down some guidelines for building one’s personal brand for professional success

We live in a world today where your image matters more than reality. A carefully crafted image about yourself is the reality people perceive about you in their mind. This mantra is very well understood by our politicians and celebrities who use professional image management companies to manage their public image which is primary to their popularity and success. However, most of us can’t afford such expensive image management consultants neither do we feel the need since we are not in such constant public glare. But most of us don’t realise the importance of creating a strong positive public image even if it’s limited to your social circle where you are engaged professionally. A carefully crafted image about yourself can do wonders to your career growth. In order to create a strong positive image about yourself you need to follow the rules of brand building where a strong compelling and consistent message over a sustained period of time is the key to success. This article is an attempt to guide you in building your personal brand for professional success.

Define how you would like to be perceived: This is the tough part since it is not easy to be identified as a lion if you are a deer. Hence, it is important to first identify your strengths which sets you apart from the others. Identify your core values and things you are passionate about. It is always advisable to put these on paper and keep it in a place where it is visible to you so that you are constantly reminded of what you are and what you stand for. There is no scope for any negative traits here, the focus is primarily on positive traits which can be viewed by your professional network positively.

Communicate your brand: It is very important to be constantly seen and heard; there is nothing called as over exposure unless you are a celebrity. These are some ways to achieve it:
• Social Media: A carefully crafted social media profile is the key. Be very careful what you share or the comments you put in your social media accounts. For a professional it is very important to have a professional looking LinkedIn profile. You need to share posts and articles which are consistent with the skills and image you want to project. Do not engage in anything in your social media accounts which displays your political colours; this may work for you in some cases but can also backfire badly in the long run so it is always safer to highlight issues which are aligned to your values rather than to criticise any political party or politician.
• Creating your own Blog: This is a very useful tool if you possess good skills in putting your thoughts to words. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise by creating and sharing valuable content related to your industry. In order get maximum views on your blog it is important to share the link within your network and also on your social media platform especially on LinkedIn.
• Public Speaking: Engage with a live audience whenever you get an opportunity. Even if there are no opportunities, seek such opportunities by volunteering to be a guest faculty at various educational institutes or by seeking to be the presenter for various company functions. This can be achieved only if you work on your public speaking skills. Public speaking ensures that a large audience is exposed to you and knows you. Your speaking style and content of what you speak should be aligned with the image you want to project.
• Networking: This can be very difficult if you are an introvert. However, there is no substitute to networking. Engage with your peers, higher-ups and your juniors; engage with the community consistently, grow your social circle especially your professional circle. If you don’t have a natural flair for networking, you can do so by participating in industry events, conferences and webinars which will give you an opportunity to meet people. Similarly, by becoming a member of Rotary Clubs or BNI you will get the opportunity to meet some influential people. Networking helps your brand grow and the word of mouth can also work in your favour if you do it well.

Building skills to match your brand promise: A brand promise and consistent brand communication can work only to an extent. It has to be backed up by the ability to deliver on the promise and the delivery has to be consistent with the projected image. Hence it is vital that one makes the effort to skill up. This not only includes the hard skills required for your job but also includes soft skills like oral and written communication, public speaking, public etiquettes and networking skills.

Feedback: Keep your eyes and ears open to any feedback. If it is positive that means your self-branding strategy is working. Be open to negative feedback since it is not possible to impress everyone.
Work on addressing the issues related to negative feedback, adapt and improve continuously.

Note: Do remember that image building requires a consistent effort over a sustained period of time to show results. Feel free to approach an expert if you find it difficult to manage this on your own.

The columnist is is a Career Coach, Trainer, Life Coach. Email

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