In an earlier post on “Developing Your Professional Brand”, I mentioned Dorie Clark’s quote that your professional brand “is about figuring out who you really are and what you do best, and then living that brand out. It’s the essence of authenticity;” and that there are four cornerstones to be addressed when developing your professional brand: Purpose, Clarity, Focus and Strategy.
This post focuses on Clarity.
Clarity is about determining what you’re good at; what you like to do; what you don’t like doing. Related to this, is where you would like to do what you’re good at.
Getting clarity around your professional brand is a critical element of knowing the value you bring to a prospective employer or client. It’s about knowing your unique talent, or as Laura Garnett calls it,your “inner genius,” that which you do better than anyone else.
For many, it’s hard to assess your inner genius simply because what you do well, you do intuitively. You don’t think about what it is you do best and how you do it. You see an problem, jump in and solve it. However, it’s really important to be able to articulate how you add value to a project, a team, an organization. You can’t assume a prospective employer or client will figure it out.
When I meet with a client for the first time, I ask a series of questions that are designed, in part, to get clarity around their professional brand. I’ll ask about their favorite job and what was most appealing about it. I’ll ask what they liked least about it as well. I’ll want them to tell me their top strengths and skills; and conversely, their weaknesses. I’ll ask them what they are most proud of in their career. Then I’ll ask, “in a sentence or two, what is it you do well?’
Typically, their response to that last question provides a great deal of clarity around their professional brand. In fact, it often is the basis for their professional tagline that we use in their LinkedIn profile and resume.
Some folks, though are stumped by these questions. They’ve never given them much thought. They’ve just proceeded through their careers doing what they do, without giving it much thought. They may have a sense of what they’re good at and what they enjoy doing in their job, but they can’t articulate it in terms of their value.
For these people, we’ll often have them take the StrengthsFinders assessment. This timed, online assessment lists their top five strengths or themes, which provide a framework for them to articulate their unique talent. Armed with these themes, they can determine their unique talent and the value they can bring to an employer.
Being clear about what you do best and how you do it, gives you a competitive advantage in the world of work. You can position yourself as a potential asset to an organization — someone who adds value — as opposed to a commodity, who is easily replaced with someone younger, cheaper and faster.
So, over to you…Can you be clear about what you do best, about the value you add? Can you articulate your inner genius?
This post originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald on July 17, 2014