How to build your personal brand even if you work for someone else…
Your company is well known, but who are YOU? You come from good stock; Good corporate stock that is. The corporation you work for, be it a big conglomerate or a mom & pop shop, has a solid brand. The company name is well known in its industry and your boss and leadership team are well renowned in the media circles.
But who are YOU? What is your brand and how does it tie into AND separate from the corporate brand that you are with at this time?
Are you in a position where no one in the marketplace outside of your corporation knows who you are? You may have a few clients and vendors that may know and appreciate your value, BUT if you detach from the corporate brand, would your work and expertise be enough to stand on its own?
It’s a subtle form of arrogance to believe your work can stand on its own without any help. -Jeff Goins
If not, you are a brilliant keeper of the corporate brand which is good, but maybe not as astute at building and maintaining your personal brand.
An employee in an influential corporate role such as a Chief of Staff or a director, mid-management position, that can successfully balance both themselves as an individual expert as well as part of a bigger team is an asset not a liability.
So how do you “make a name for yourself”? Also, how do you build upon experiences without putting your corporate brand at risk? Here is a strategic playbook I used.
Personal branding is all about building rapport at scale. -Mark Roberge
Strategy: Identify and showcase your strengths and unique talents. In my case, the first area I wanted to market was “writing”. More accurately, it was taking complex information, simplifying it and writing it in a way that could be easily understood.
Tactic: Create opportunities for my writing to highlight my ability to comprehend complex topics outside of my scope and simplify them in written form.
Example: During the time of the planning stages of the Affordable Care Act, the company that I worked for would be impacted indirectly by the outcome. Most in our industry knew and understood the insurer’s side of the coin, but few could relate to the provider’s side of the business. I had experience in both worlds. I became a liaison between the company and our state legislators and instead of just submitting typical review notes back to leadership, I instead created a 4-page color newsletter with articles from me and another associate that took the complexities of the ACA and showed the employees and my employer how each piece affected the bottom line. I also published white papers to share the pros and cons of my state becoming a part of the exchange.
Outcome: My “stock” rose within the company, but more importantly OUTSIDE of the company. My white paper was picked up by several reporters, My newsletter was circulated to many providers and insurers outside of our state. State legislators knew me from my company, but now they also knew me as the “one that writes that great summary newsletter.” Later, when I became Chairperson of the Junior League Government Affairs committee (a community oriented philanthropic organization) I had built-in relationships with many legislators that I came in contact with, but now it was for the issues that I was passionate about. I leveraged those relationships (built while on my job) to continue to build my personal brand without in any way compromising my integrity with my employer.
It’s important to build your personal brand, because its the only thing you are going to have….You’ve gotta be out there at SOME level. -Gary Vaynerchuk
I used this same strategy over and over again with my other strengths such as event management, training administrative assistants and organizing KPI systems for change and performance management. All of them have yielded positive results and now are a major part of the services I now include in my own consulting firm.
There is an incentive for corporations to keep their employees in the shadows and under a dim light. It keeps the likelihood of brand contamination low. Great for them. But be mindful it reduces negotiating influence and it lessens the probability that an employee will feel confident enough to leave the safety of an influential brand. That is also to their advantage.
Because of that fear, employees find themselves with nothing to market except the “big” name of their employer. Years ago, when employees worked for one firm for 30, 40, 50 years, this mindset was complimentary.
But today, job tenures are often MUCH shorter and corporations are merging and becoming leaner every day. Therefore, being indistinguishable in the market can hurt you severely in the long run should your job situation change in the blink of an eye.
Corporate brands still have a value of course. Corporations leverage that value and while you are a part of that corporation, respect the brand, promote the brand and use it to your advantage when possible. Yet you also have to prioritize YOUR personal brand, by leveraging your strengths to build a personal marketplace presence. You may not need it today, but for your next shift be it to another position or into entrepreneurship, your personal brand will be the ship that carries you.
What adjustment can YOU make to brand (or rebrand) yourself as a subject matter expert, valuable not only to your employer but to the industry and the global marketplace? START TODAY.
Camille D. Jamerson is a global speaker, author & entrepreneur. She is the Senior Consultant and CEO of CDJ & Associates a boutique management consulting firm. As a former AA, EA, Chief of Staff and Head of Global Offices she lends her years of experience and expertise as the founder and admin of the LinkedIN Chief of Staff-The New C-Suite Leader group.
Her amazing assistant, Reema handles her wacky calendar and about 76–94% of the rest of her life as well. Reema can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org to book CDJ for consulting or as a speaker for your next event, conference or workshop!