Developing Your Professional Brand

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.”
        ~ Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future
There has been a great deal of discussion these days, in the career development field, about “personal branding” — bringing who you are to what you do. At Heart At Work Associates, we use the term “professional branding” for the same issue. We want our clients to focus on the value they bring to an organization. That’s what will differentiate them from others competing for the same positions.
In the “new normal” of careers and work, there are several factors driving the need to develop your professional brand, to articulate your value proposition, demonstrate the impact of the work you do:
  • 83% of current employees are looking for new jobs this year;
  • Hundreds of applications are received for each position posted;
  • Employees stay an average of three to five years at their jobs;
  • People may change careers several times during their lifetime; and
  • People are working well beyond traditional retirement age.

Given these dynamics, it’s imperative that you can speak to your professional brand.

        “In today’s market, your career is a business that you own, and your employers, current and future, are your customers.”
        ~ Caroline Ceniza-Levine
Professional branding has changed quite a bit in the last ten years. Back in the day, as late as 2004, your brand was your job title as assigned by your employer. It was typically defined by responsibilities and tenure (“15+ years experience…Responsible for…”); and it was conveyed by your resume.
These days, your professional brand is how you market yourself to others. You get to decide. Your brand is defined by results and focuses on value (“Generated X% increases in savings/revenues/efficiencies/etc…”); and it’s conveyed by social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Google+ and others.
As you develop your professional brand, there are four cornerstones you need to address:
  • Purpose — Your why – the cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do.
  • Clarity — What you like to do, as well as what you don’t like doing. What you’re good at.
  • Focus — What is the story you tell about yourself and the value you bring? What is the story you tell others about that value?
  • Strategy — Moving to action; what are the key steps you need to take to get to where you want to be.

These four cornerstones, provide the framework for your professional brand.

So, over to you…What is your professional brand? Can you clearly and concisely articulate your unique value? Can you share stories that effectively conveys that value?

This post originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald on June 8, 2014.

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