In July’s column, I provided an overview of the concept of personal branding and why it is relevant to security professionals looking to further both their reputation and marketability. This month I want to expand on the topic by addressing specific steps you can take to better identify your individual brand.
Establishment or growth of your personal brand is hard to achieve if you do not first identify what assets you have and where you need improvement. Time to do an inventory:
- Reflect on your past activities and achievements and do not sell yourself short. Create a master list of all the good work you have done. Detail your accomplishments in the areas of employment, internship, leadership and any volunteer work or civic involvement. Do not forget any career-related course work you may have done. Treat this list as a living document that you add to as you continue your experience.
- Identify your best asset. What makes you unique and noteworthy? Ask people who know you well to answer that question. Once you determine this, document it and make sure people know about it.
- What do you need to improve upon? Consult your master list of achievements and identify any areas in which you are lacking. Take steps to fill in those blanks with new experience, education and training.
Learning and Growth
Plan to keep your skills and competencies on the cutting edge to remain competitive. Lifelong learning is an essential component to continually feeding your brand.
- Benchmark your skills against others then identify educational opportunities that offer you the chance to learn and add to your master list.
- Finish a degree (majors/minors/advanced) and participate in continuing education programs.
- Identify substantive conferences and workshops and attend them.
Prepare Your Marketing Strategy
Organizations require a marketing plan to be successful. So do you. Create a strategy to advance your brand and clarify where you want it to go.
- Mission statements define the identity of an organization. Develop a similar document for yourself that is short, describes your objective and is tightly focused on the next three to five years of your career.
- Create a vision statement. Further your mission statement by describing exactly how you will complete what you intend to do. Specify tactics and methods you will employ.
- Create your marketing plan. Develop a strategy to discuss your mission, your talents and your unique edge with people.
Develop Your Marketing Literature
Promotional pieces of literature are required for people just as they are for organizations.
- At minimum you should have a current resume or CV together with a cover letter and comprehensive list of both business and personal references.
- Incorporate your mission and vision into your promotional pieces.
- Be prepared to customize each component to each specific opportunity.
Advance Your Message
Plan to be visible and understand that everything you do will communicate the value of your brand.
- Develop your pitch. Practice it in informal settings such as conversations with friends or mentors.
- An interview is the perfect opportunity to sell your brand. Prepare for it by researching the company and knowing where your skills and abilities fit well. Plan to incorporate your personal mission and vision statements into the conversation.
- Appearance and communication style should match your presentation.
Good post-interview communication helps further a positive association with your brand.
- Do not underestimate the effectiveness of a thank you note. It associates courtesy and respect with your work.
- Return employers’ calls immediately to establish trust. Respond to all requests to demonstrate responsibility.
Development of a personal brand is no small undertaking. Introspection is difficult, and most people are inherently uncomfortable marketing themselves. Once you take the first steps, it does become easier. If you continue to update your brand throughout your career, it will ensure you are always at the ready for advancement.
Next month I will wrap up the concept of personal branding by looking at new tools to advance your brand and how you can measure its effectiveness.