Personal branding means establishing a unique brand as an individual and building a community of supporters who truly believe in what you are saying and doing. Your personal brand may be the reason why you are invited to a job interview, land a bigger role, get your next raise or a promotion. Today, nobody pays that much attention to traditional resumes; you are evaluated based on what you’ve done and who you know.
When starting out in your consulting career, you are likely to float between industries, service areas, and clients. Finding your niche and focusing in on your unique voice is no easy task but it can have dramatically positive results on your career. Take Beyonce and her “Beyhive” – a perfect example of personal branding done masterfully. Now, we won’t all be the next Beyonce but everyone is a brand and has a chance to stand out. So here are just a few tips on how to build a reputation and stay competitive amongst your rock star peers.
1. Decide what you want to be the ‘go-to’ person for
Building your brand will take time and dedication. So when figuring out what you want to be known for, start by determining what you feel passionate about and where you really want to invest your energy. What may help is speaking with your friends, colleagues, project managers, mentors, and even your clients to understand how they perceive your strengths and weaknesses. Then use this information as a baseline for creating your brand.
2. Be specific
It’s usually not enough to choose a general field like ‘Finance’ or ‘Human Resources’. Instead, it’s best to develop yourself in a very specific area – whether that’s agile project management, advanced financial modeling or a particularly deep knowledge in an industry. Once you know what you want to stand for, define your unique selling proposition and create an elevator pitch. That’s what people will remember. Keep it short and to the point, and you’ll find it much easier to interview for your next project role or even a new job.
3. Show off your expertise
If you do great work and no one knows about it, then it is as if the work was never done. To demonstrate that you know what you are talking about, start thinking beyond your typical project assignment. Engage in community discussions (internally and externally); look for ways to write and contribute to white papers; come up with some interesting case studies or join one of your firm’s thought leadership initiatives – there are so many opportunities, you just have to find and make use of them.
4. Develop a personal social media strategy
If social media is not your ‘thing’, you may want to reconsider. Social media platforms provide a great way to engage with your colleagues, clients, and the broader public. However, be purposeful about what you share, and know your firm’s policies before you start writing, blogging, tweeting, commenting, publishing… Google yourself regularly and always keep your public profiles up-to-date and aligned with your personal brand. With 92% of companies now using social media to hire, you will want to control these impressions.
5. Build your network
Networking is so much more than just schmoozing over cheese platters and exchanging business cards; there’s actually an art to it. Engage with individuals in your field, social influencers and anybody else who could be valuable in helping you spread the word about your experience. Make it your mission to attend and – if possible – speak at events; it’s a great way to demonstrate your expertise while connecting with new audiences. Plus you never know who you will meet, whether it’s your next employer, a potential client or a ‘just’ a great new friend.
Managing your personal brand is no longer an option; it’s a requirement if you want to advance your consulting career quickly. While it does take a tremendous amount of conscious effort and careful execution, being memorable has exponentially positive effects when it comes to spreading the word about your brand. Most importantly, remember that many clients don’t just buy services; they buy people and trusted relationships. So put your best personal brand forward when trying to sell your next consulting engagement to give your conversion rate a boost…
This article was originally published on our partner site, TheConsultantLounge.com
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