What is our personal brand? What do others think of us? How does our brand define our career as a subject matter expert?
Experts, like everybody else, have a personal brand. We can just let it happen or we can be proactive in defining our personal brand. We can define what our personal brand should be and work towards it.
Our brand helps determine the type of work we do, the opportunities that come to us, and the people we get access to. It is a major factor in which meetings we get invited to (or don’t) and the way in which others relate to us.
Few people in our organisation really know or understand our qualifications or the extent of our knowledge. They may or may not know much about our interests and opinions. But they still form views about us, based on fleeting impressions and other factors.
They have their own views on the focus of our role, our likely attitudes towards things based on our profession, our assumed interests, our temperament, etc. And those views inform the way they relate (or don’t relate) with us – whether or not they’re justified.
The collective opinions people form about us constitute our personal brand. It is important for us to understand what impressions people have about us. It also then becomes important for us to work on what impressions would we like them to have.
Are we renowned for saying no? Do we have a reputation for responding negatively to ideas, for being obsessed with what others see as irrelevant detail, for being idealistic, obstinate, commercially out of touch, or one dimensional? Do people think they are unable to talk to us about things beyond our own specialist area of knowledge?
Or are we regarded as ‘can do’, outcomes-focused, easy to engage with, commercially savvy, adaptable, able to grasp the big picture? Are we viewed as having relevant or valuable insights to offer the organisation beyond that of professional field that we represent?
You can shape your personal brand
The good news is that each of us – if we apply some careful thought and act accordingly – can shape our own personal brand so that it:
Supports our career aspirations.
Attracts the right opportunities – and repels the wrong ones.
Increases our impact and influence.
How do we do this? It is a three-step process:
First, define our brand
Consider our career aspirations over the next two to three years:
What achievements and capabilities would we like to be known for?
What roles (formal or informal) would we like to fulfil? What capabilities and temperament do we need to demonstrate for others to naturally and positively engage with us?
What characteristics would we like people to experience with us?
Second, explore the gaps
Take an inventory. How many of the desirable traits, achievements, capabilities would others recognise in us right now? If asked, how would the key stakeholders describe the experiences they have had with us?
It is often useful to formally elicit others’ feedback. At Expertunity, we have developed the Expertship360, a comprehensive survey which mirrors the world in which experts operate. The survey is designed to help us identify our impact with different stakeholder groups. It involves asking five data sources for feedback on our role and our impact on the business.
The Expertship360 is mapped to the Expertship Model, a capability framework for progressing towards the Master Expert level.
Third, identify and commit to developing new behaviours and capabilities
Expertship360 enables us to identify the two or three most critical characteristics, behaviours, capabilities or experiences that, if improved, will have the highest positive impact on our brand.
It will enable us to develop an action plan for how we will habitually exhibit our new brand characteristics, and how we will commit to implementing and review progress on a regular basis.
Cultivating a compelling personal brand will open doors. It may even be the most important step we take in our whole career.