Building Relationships to Advance Your Personal Brand
Many of the positions I held in my corporate security career relied on my ability to accurately assess an individual or an event. Good listening and clear communication skills went hand-in-hand with the abilities to investigate, develop rapport with a wide audience and form an accurate understanding of whatever the circumstance was.
Many different roles within the security profession have these skills and competencies in common, and they have the potential to put security job seekers in a favorable position when job hunting as they are all requirements for a successful job search. However, failing to apply these attributes universally throughout your career can cause damage to your personal brand and limit your career opportunities.
Over the years, I have attended hundreds of security-related conferences and functions around the world. These are great opportunities to build your network. Very often 10 minutes of conversation with someone I may have only just met causes me to realize just how small and interconnected the security community is. Six degrees of separation is likely closer to three.
It is easy to lose sight of how many connections we have in common, especially if you are part of a large multinational company. The diversity of interaction across functions and business units is a unique aspect of working as a security professional within this kind of organization. You likely regularly work with all levels of internal management, administrative and support functions. Suppliers, third-party vendors, governmental agencies and the general public are common external clients. On appearance it may seem like a much larger playing field than it is.
As much as things can change, they can also remain surprisingly consistent. Business executives and other employees you may have known in your organization may move to companies where your professional acquaintances work. It is common to see many individuals who were previously on the practitioner side, public or private sector, who are now affiliated with suppliers of goods and services. The nature of the security profession lends itself to interactions with this same narrow group of suppliers, many of whom you may know well through previous affiliations.
It can seem like there are a lot of moving parts, however, they remain interconnected and hopefully all have consistent views of you as a security practitioner. You never know who the person you are dealing with knows or has a personal connection to. They may be in a position someday to positively – or negatively – impact your career aspirations.
Consistently presenting yourself to this diverse audience across your security career can influence your future in subtle and sometimes surprising ways. Obviously, your demeanor and choice of words influence how you are perceived by others. It can also aid in the development and marketing of your personal brand and be a key element in advancing your career aspirations.
An appreciation and understanding of the importance of these relationships and the impact your behavior may have on them is critical to your brand and future career success.