Today marks the first day of our new biweekly blog from Sinead Sharkey of Generation Women, this week she explores your personal brand and how to get it right.
Sinead is the Founder of Generation Women and is a Career and Leadership Coach. She has almost 20 years’ experience of developing leaders in global corporates. Her passion for helping women excel in their careers has resulted in her clients landing the jobs they want, being headhunted, and stepping up into leadership with confidence. She’s the Director of Leadership Development for Lean In Ireland and a passionate advocate for equality.
Have you any idea what your personal brand is?
No? Well, it might surprise you to know you have one. If you’ve never given it a second thought it’s likely it’s not what you want it to be…in fact, it could even be hurting your career prospects.
Before we get into what it is and how you shape it, you may be wondering why I should care?
Are you unhappy at work? Have you been overlooked when it comes to promotions? Are you put on projects you don’t really want? Are you feeling miserable and stuck in your job? If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on. Help is at hand.
So, what is your brand?
According to Jeff Bezos (Amazon), it’s ‘what people say about us when we’re not in the room’. The first impression you make and the lasting impression you leave. How you look, sound, behave, and the work that you do.
This applies in person AND online which means people you’ve never met may already have a perception of you and your brand.
That includes prospective employers, interviewers, headhunters.
Amazingly, most people haven’t given this too much thought, which is awesome news for you to get a head start. You can be at the forefront of decision-makers’ minds for the next promotion, have the confidence to go for exciting roles, and deliver the impact you need to be seen as a serious contender.
In January, I started coaching a woman who was feeling miserable and invisible at work, so had taken a career break. Her return date was fast looming and she was not in a good place. Fast-forward to today and her profile in the same company has sky-rocketed, plus she has a clear plan of what she wants to go on to achieve and how to do it.
What magic did I use? We shaped her brand by getting her clear on what she wanted and how to express it. As a result, she has ramped up her presence and impact, has created and identified amazing opportunities, and positioned herself to make it happen.
The Four Foundations
It’s important to start with the foundations. You really need to work out 4 key things.
• Values. Knowing what’s important helps you make good decisions. When you’re happy or unhappy at work, this is at the heart of it.
• Strengths. Not just what you’re good at, but what energises you. What do you love doing that you’re great at? How do you add value? What gives you job satisfaction?
• Skills and experience. I like to think of this as your story. What are the highlights, what does your story say about you and does that plotline needs to be changed?
• Vision. When you picture yourself in 5 years’ time, what are you doing? What do you see, hear, and feel? Clarity of vision shapes your brand to fit your future.
Next, ask yourself: What is how I look, sound, and behave saying about my brand? You are communicating it in every interaction – in person and online.
Now, it’s time to get strategic. Your Brand needs to be reflected in everything you do. From your LinkedIn profile, to how you present yourself in a meeting.
3 practical steps you can take to get Brand You out there:
• Get out networking, and have a great answer to the ‘what do you do?’ question. Job titles tend to be conversation killers. Instead, how about you talk about the problems you solve for people and the results you get for them. You’re much more likely to capture their attention and it could open a door or 2!
• Revise your CV to emphasise the experience that fits with your brand. As a Customer Service Manager with a passion for problem-solving put the spotlight in the right place. Your intro might read ‘As a Customer Service Manager, I delight our customers by solving problems to give an amazing customer experience…’ and you follow up with your top achievements.
• You can transform the job you’re in by applying your brand. Pay attention to the work you’re saying yes and no to. How does it fit with your brand? If you’re worried about how to say no, try ‘I’m flattered that you asked me to do [x], but I can see you also need help with [y], and that’s what I’m best at, so…’
When you get it right and live and breathe your brand, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be unstoppable!
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Sinead is the Founder of Generation Women and is a Career and Leadership Coach. She has almost 20 years’ experience of developing leaders in global corporates. Her passion for helping others excel in their careers has resulted in her clients landing the jobs they want, being headhunted, and stepping up into leadership with confidence. She’s the Director of Leadership Development for Lean In Ireland and a passionate advocate for equality.