In today’s competitive world of work, it is important for you to have a professional brand. Essentially, on the job market, you are a product. You have to package and sell yourself. So taking time to think through your strategy can be the difference between what you do now and your next big move.
For most people, talking about professional branding feels like too much to ask. I made this cheat sheet to help you quickly package yourself.
Pick a specific field, or an issue (e.g disruptive tech, climate change, gender based violence, macro economics, baking, events photography)
Pick your best technical skills (e.g advocacy, research and analytics, marketing, project management, organizing and facilitation, performing)
Reflect on what your personality is like (are you an initiator, a contributor, good at speaking in public, prefer to write, creative, good at connecting people)
Then put the three together to make that your professional brand: what you work on, what you are good at and what you bring to the table.
Simplify it for others and to help you remember it. Make 3 sentences to answer the question- who are you? Use your three things from the above points. Bonus point, I use these 3 sentence when I am asked to introduce myself on an interview and sometimes at professional networking events. In a minute or so, you will be able to articulate clearly who you are, what you can do, and what you offer. You are already winning at this point!
Now practice! When you present yourself, whether it’s online, at work, at conferences, have these three in mind. When you spend your time, also have these three in mind. Make sure you are spending time on things that are aligned or are building you up in these three ways.
Keep practicing! Be consistent. Until people begin to know you for these things. Try to pitch it to your friends and colleagues. See their response. Then improve. Other people should be able to say these three things about you. Then you know, you are making your mark.
When people know your brand, they can easily put you forward for opportunities because they know who you are, what you can do and what it is like working with you.
It takes some time but you will get there. It helps you stay focused, when you know what brand of yourself you are building. You are also guided when you seek opportunities or apply for jobs or collaborations. You know what you want to associate with. You know who you want your brand to align with. It even helps you pick the right growth circles to hang out in.
Do not leave your brand to chance, build it.