I was running a coaching session with a senior individual recently. He had just secured a new role with a new organisation, and was looking for advice on how to make it a success. My advice consisted of four words: Develop your personal brand.
He was also keen to explore how he could continue to focus on managing his career while performing well in his new role, and what approaches he should consider to put himself in a good position to make his next move. My advice to this second set of questions also consisted of four words: Develop your personal brand!
In the first situation, it is really important before moving to a new job - and that equally could be within an organisation as well as outside in a completely new environment - to think about what impression you want to make.
Think about it. If you were a new packaged goods product about to be launched in a supermarket, someone would have spent hours agonising over your packaging, your positioning and your communication strategy. It’s no different for people in new roles, and you have a small window of opportunity to get it right.
Strong relationship-building skills and internal networking abilities are helpful here, but it is equally important to think about what you are communicating about yourself, rather than how. A good coach can help enormously.
Similarly, in the context of managing your career, it is equally important to consider what you stand for, how you want to be perceived and who you want your messages to get to.
Again, all the rules of good networking apply, but it’s also important to think of additional communication channels, perhaps related to professional development. Building your contacts and relationships with recruiters over a period of time can be equally helpful.
When I talk about developing your personal brand, I’m not talking about wearing the right clothes or ensuring your online presence is squeaky clean, I’m talking about something more fundamental: What people think of you (your brand essence), what you would like them to think (brand stretch) and how you say it (communication strategy). Again, think about working with a coach to help you succeed in this.