Building and maintaining your professional brand

Take the time to create your own personal and professional brand.

10/26/2011


You walk into the office on any given day, grab your favorite morning beverage, and get started on your day. As you look at your calendar, how much time is allocated to building or maintaining your personal brand or reputation? For many of us, not enough time. In fact, if we were honest, we’d probably say that the last time we thought about it was when we graduated from college, began our job search, or when we got our current position.

But in today’s market, building and cultivating your personal brand or—to put it in more familiar terms—your professional reputation, is essential to a successful career. You want to be top of mind to your employer for organizational advancement, to a perspective client, or to a potential employer looking for talent. None of us wants to be in the position of hoping we hear about an opportunity and having the chance to chase it. While your firm will invest significant marketing resources to develop and build the firm’s brand, where do you turn for help with building your own brand?

A great place to begin is with a personal brand outline. This outline will help you better understand your professional strengths and any knowledge or skill gaps that you may need to address. Find 30 quiet minutes to jot down some notes on these four areas:

  1. Knowledge/expertise: What are your areas of expertise? Are there skills or core knowledge that you have or are developing that set you apart from your colleagues in your firm as well as in your industry? Are you sought out for your firm’s projects because of your knowledge and experience? If so, why do project leaders want you? It can be hard to have a perspective on our own skills and expertise, so don’t be afraid to consult friends and colleagues for feedback on what makes you valuable to the firm or a project. This information is the foundation for your personal brand.
  2. Presence: How do you appear to others? Do people remember you? Creating a presence is about your personality and demeanor, behavior in front of clients and colleagues, and your personal character. Understanding your personal presence and how it can impact a client and colleagues is almost as important as understanding your skill set. I have seen numerous examples where the most experienced individual in a company is passed over because he or she does not have the right presence for the role. It is not enough to have the knowledge; you must have the personal presence to deliver the knowledge in an effective manner. 
  3. Relationships: In the words of Jimmy Buffett, “we all got ’em…what do we do with them?” Do you have a strong and broad-based network available to you? We operate in a relationship-based industry, so a strong network is essential. Do you network and nurture your contacts? Do you have a LinkedIn profile and do you keep it up-to-date and use it to connect with colleagues, clients, and professional resources? Networking and relationship-building is no longer something we can afford to do in our free time; it is essential to building our personal brands.
  4. Visibility: Are you assigned to high-profile projects in your firm, or active in high-profile organizations or associations? Are you active in your community? Being assigned to a particularly challenging client, leading a United Way or a Habitat for Humanity project for your firm, serving on the leadership board for a professional organization, or coaching your child’s little league team all show leadership and willingness to take on challenging assignments. Be sure to include results in your notes on your outline.

Now sit back and take a look at your outline. Does it tell a good story about your brand and reputation? If not, identify the gaps and focus on spending a few minutes each week on filling those gaps. For some guidance on how to do that, refer to past Career Smart articles on building knowledge, and mentoring. And, there are numerous resources on the Web that will guide you through using marketing/brand building fundamentals for personal brand development, including Careerrocketeer.com, CIO.com, and an excellent presentation done by Toby Nathan at RecruitaStar on increasing your online presence.

Jane Sidebottom

Taking the time to build your personal brand and nurture your reputation is not only a smart investment in your career, but one that will produce ongoing returns.

Sidebottom is the owner of AMK LLC, a management and marketing consulting firm that provides market development and growth expertise to small and medium-size firms. She has 20 years of management and leadership experience in both consulting engineering and Fortune 100 organizations. Sidebottom is a graduate of the University of Maryland.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Bring focus to PLC programming: 5 things to avoid in putting your system together; Managing the DCS upgrade; PLM upgrade: a step-by-step approach
Balancing the bagging triangle; PID tuning improves process efficiency; Standardizing control room HMIs
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.