When I first started college at Texas A&M University, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Throughout my freshman year, I struggled to figure out what my niche was. I majoring in Human Resource Development, which exposed me to many areas of human capital management. Feeling totally overwhelmed, it took one class sophomore year to realize that Training and Development was where I could thrive. It was from that point on that I directed all my studies and professional involvement to corporate learning, and after four years entered the workforce.
When I stepped into the allsynx office for the first time, I was a ground level 1. I had a basic understanding of my field, I was capable of doing the work, and I was eager to get started. It wasn’t until I starting working that I realized in order to excel in my career, I had to create and maintain a personal brand. To be honest with you, at 22 years old developing a personal brand seemed impossible. How would I create a brand of my own when I barely understood who I was as an adult, much less a working professional. My direct supervisor and mentor, Amber O’Reilly, regularly encouraged me to pursue research, networking and conference events – Anything to expose to me to different areas of interest within talent development. With all of that, I’ve experienced key things that helped me gain a little more clarity into what my personal brand is. While I strongly believe building a personal brand is a lifelong task, I want to share with you somethings that have helped me get started.
Developing a personal brand is vital to gaining credibility within your organization, as well as your professional community. At allsynx, individuality is welcomed and regularly promoted throughout training. Here are a few ways we have found help with building a personal brand.
#1. Social Media
One of the greatest free, professional tools we have at our finger tips is social media. I believe that sites like Twitter and LinkedIn can do wonders to jump start your personal brand. At allsynx, as part of our new hire training program, we actually encourage our employees to create a professional account for each major social site. We have found it helps our new hires stay connected within their community, learn a few things, and keep them motivated in their work. If you haven’t already done so, my recommendation is to open an account and see how it goes. Make it a daily for yourself to be active on the site for a couple minutes. Every day, little by little, you will build your profile as a resource to your followers. I recommend you follow your professional icons and people you respect in your industry. “Like” or “share” posts that you agree with, or even you disagree with. Most importantly, always give your 2 cents. Whether you are creating a new post, or re-sharing what someone else wrote, it’s important to let your readers know where you stand on the subject.
#2. Defining Your Personal Brand
Defining your brand is one of the more difficult hurdles you have to constantly fight for. Having a personal brand requires you to take a stance on professional topics and continue to do so throughout your career. For example, if you were to write an article defending the importance of taking time off work, that is a stance you have now made public as part of your personal brand. If you then released another article that explained why taking vacation is not an essential part of professional growth, your personal brand would then be diminished. It’s important to understand that if you make a statement, you should consistently support that statement. If you opinion on a topic changes, take the time to explain why your views have changed. Without this explanation, your audience may start to question your beliefs and it’s possible you will lose your credibility. Stay consistent!
#3 Research Days
Research days are a great way to help you understand what makes you passionate at work. My team started to utilize research days about a year ago and has undergone so much incredible growth thanks to this idea. Basically what happens is once a month each employee will have a Friday they dedicate to research. This research could be anything as long as it, #1. pertains to their field and #2. helps them more clearly define what their focus and personal brand is. From there, each employee is responsible for bringing that research to the next scheduled team meeting. At that time, the employee would share all of their findings, explain why they decided to go down the research path that they did, and that information pertains to their personal brand. In the past, my team and I have shared some really great insight that has helped our brand tremendously. On the flip side, we have also have research days where we go down a rabbit hole and realize “this isn’t a topic I want to be an expert in”. Either way, research days are a great way to start focusing on what else you want to represent as a professional. Try it out!
Networking is important for so many reasons, one of those being exposure to your professional environment. When you meet new people, you are exposed to new perspectives and opinions. This can be extremely beneficial to understanding and building your own personal brand. The only way you can truly define who you want to be as a professional is if you have the information to reach a conclusion. Try finding a professional group in your city or remotely. The corporate environment is seeing a lot of change right now, and networking organization are more accessible than ever. I encourage you to step into each session with an open mind and form your opinion and views as you go. Before long, you will have a solid platform to stand on!
Hopefully some of this information is helpful for you as you continue to build a presence for yourself. If anything, just remember that you and your opinion is valued, so why not share those opinions with others! As long as you are respectful and professional, verbalizing your personal band will help you reach your career goals. Take it step by step and have courage!
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