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Identifying the skills needed for the future
Developing a growth mindset
Creating a culture of continuous learning
Everything you do that’s visible to other people in some way will factor into your personal brand. It’s important, therefore, to ensure you’re taking steps to convey the right messages.
We apply the principles of project management to personal branding and outline six tenets to follow:
1) Identify your purpose
2) Decide on your investment
3) Get clear on the benefits — and how you’ll track them.
4) Identify your stakeholders.
5) Lay out your resources and deliverables.
6) Nail down your plan.
Most professionals recognize the value of having a strong personal brand. After all, if you’re not associated with particular concepts or strengths or characteristics or viewpoints, then you’re probably invisible inside your organization. That might be fine for where you are now, but if you want to advance, you need to distinguish yourself in some way.
Conversely, if you have a strong personal brand, people often seek you out for opportunities or want to work with you, specifically. A strong personal brand is a form of career insurance.
Developing and honing your personal brand takes time — and it’s almost never “urgent.” So why bother? It’s essential to get clear on your purpose before starting, or your motivation is likely to flag quickly when time pressures emerge. One trick is to ask several times, “Why am I doing this project?”
The answer might be: to be recognized for my expertise. Then ask yourself again: Why do you want to be recognized for your expertise?
If after the exercise you don’t reach something relevant then you not start the project.
When it comes to your personal brand, even though there may be some investments (you might decide it’s useful to create a personal website, for instance), the majority of your investment will be in the form of your time. For instance, you might decide to focus on building your network, creating content (such as launching a blog), or cultivating social proof.
It’s important to recognize that building a strong personal brand is a project that will take years to accomplish in the form you’d like.
You might be seeking benefits such as revenue (more clients seek you out because of your strong brand); impact (you’re offered the chance to write a book or a column for a high-profile publication); or career progression (in a crowded field, you’re chosen for the coveted promotion).
Building a strong personal brand is a process that plays out over many years. The benefits rarely accrue in weeks or even months.
It’s essential to develop a hypothesis for how long you suspect your project will take. Also look for signs of progress, celebrating the small wins.
Building a strong personal brand may seem like a project that only affects you — but actually, it’s worth thinking expansively about the stakeholders that may be impacted. Your boss, for instance, may feel threatened or worry that you’re plotting to leave your job if you suddenly start to get active on social media or take steps to raise your profile.
Where possible, it’s important to keep them apprised of your goals and enlist their support.
Projects are delivered by people, and they can’t be automated. So ensuring that you have enough time to dedicate toward building and managing your personal brand is key. In most cases, before starting the project, we recommend that you stop one or two activities that you are currently doing.
Maybe that means reducing your volunteer activities, or quitting your sports league, or recognizing that you won’t actually learn Italian this year. But giving yourself sufficient resources to commit to the new project is an essential starting point.
You need to ask: How and when will the work be carried out?
Every project manager will tell you projects have a natural flow. There is a relaxed feeling at the beginning of the project, as the end seems distant. Stress starts to hit as the project moves toward the midway point and teams realize that deadlines are coming quickly. Toward the end of the project, everyone is in a mad scramble to get things done.
A key job of project managers is breaking projects into smaller deliverables with deadlines to lessen this effect.
By breaking the work into the most important things that need to be completed on a weekly or biweekly basis and then having honest conversations about what they accomplished during those periods, teams hold themselves accountable, focusing on what they need to do.
Instilling the habit of making and reviewing commitments each week is a great way to focus on what’s important and get a clear picture of what’s getting done.
Developing a regular schedule is important for your personal branding project, as well, because it ensures that even if you get busy, the most important tasks won’t fall off your radar.
We can never fully control how others view us. But when you manage the cultivation of your personal brand like a project – replete with a compelling purpose, ambitious objectives, a realistic timeline, and clear deliverables – your chances of success in developing a reputation you can be proud of will be much higher.
"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." ~ Margaret Fuller
Your personal brand is your career insurance.
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