Building your personal brand is critical to career success today. In an interview with BMA Colorado, personal branding expert Tamara McCleary shares her insight into how marketers in all stages of their careers can more effectively align their brand with their career goals and manage it for success.
How do you define personal brand?
For marketers, your personal brand is how people see and perceive you in the marketplace. Marketing professionals excel at creating a potent and compelling brand persona for their companies, however, they often fail to do the same for themselves which is a huge career faux pas as a marketer in today’s digitized world. Unless you’re planning on retiring in the next three years, it’s time for a personal branding makeover for career acceleration and job security.
Innovative marketers position themselves as leaders within their organization and, without a strong digital presence of their own, risk being replaced by others who possess valuable online currency. There is quite a lot of professional cache present with accruing social equity in our sharing economy. Therefore, it behooves all of us to take our personal brand seriously and actively co-create our digital footprint.
I challenge everyone to evaluate their current online personal brand and ask, “Is this serving my career development or holding me back?” You have an online persona whether you’re actively engaged in creating one or not. The real question is, how is it serving you?
Do you have advice for people who are trying to build their personal brand?
The number one thing you should do, according to McCleary, is have clarity of vision and focus around what you want to be known for. All of your major career decisions within an organization will be made for you when you’re not in the room. So, what do you want people to be saying about you when you’re not there? What's important to your senior leadership? Your board? What’s important to you? Identify what you would like to be known for now and in the future. As humans, we are constantly evolving and changing, so where is your career evolution happening? What do you aspire to? What would you like to be doing that you’re not currently? What do you want to be known for? The answers to these questions are precisely where you will find succulent content to build your thought leadership and powerful personal brand.
The number one mistake marketers make is thinking that their personal brand is their title or the organization they work for. This is a huge mistake. If you are let go from the organization and lose your title, then poof, so disappears your power and clout online. Don’t be fooled by title and company; you must diversify your social portfolio by creating your own thought leadership outside of your title and organization.
Another common mistake many marketers make is wasting valuable time and energy in unfocused social media activity. When your fingers hit the keyboard do you have a strategy for Twitter and LinkedIn? We would never employ this kind of recklessness within our marketing department for the organizations we work for, (I hope), so why would we squander our limited time and energy resources with a lack of clarity and purpose for our own brand? Think, what’s my tag line? Do people know what I’m about? How am I memorable, human, customer-centric, authentic, and engaging? What's my target market online? It’s imperative we use the same marketing wisdom to create our own brand.
How do thought leadership and personal branding relate?
Thought leadership and personal branding have an intimate relationship. True thought leaders engage and inspire us to be creative, to innovate and disrupt ourselves. As a global marketing consultant I approach marketing through the vehicle of Joseph Campbell’s The Heroes Journey. Organizations must reach their target market through setting themselves up as the trusted mentor, leader, and guide — not the hero. The customer is the hero.
For personal branding, it is no different. How have you set yourself up on social media to be the trusted mentor, leader and guide? Your audience, the ones that follow you, retweet you, comment and engage with you are the heroes in your thought leadership journey.
If you focus on being authentically you, sharing and engaging with others, focusing on what you want to be known for, and elevating others for what they are known for, you will have a powerful brand. How you behave online creates not just thought leadership, but who you are. It’s not what we Tweet, or post on LinkedIn, but what we do, (engagement), which speaks the loudest.
Do you have any tips for ensuring your personal brand grows with you and is adaptable to our rapidly changing business environment?
We’re all evolving and if you want to be a powerful thought leader in today’s digital transformation environment, you must pick a swim lane. What I mean by that is, figure out what you want to become an expert in and focus on following all the experts within this area. Enter and become a part of the conversation, and be actively engaging/talking with others about the topic. Don’t just post, answer people back and respond. What is important to you? What gets you up in the morning? What are you passionate about?
Marketer’ are living in a state of "overwhelm" as their daily norm. No one has time. When I keynote the BMA Colorado meeting on Sept. 13, I’m going to show you a proven strategy to build your powerful and potent brand easily, simply and effectively on a budget strapped for time and energy. There has never been a more critical time for marketers to focus on building their own brand. I think you’re worth it - do you?