Building Your Personal Brand? It’s Impossible Without Professional Development

A lot has been written around the topic of personal branding.  I attribute this hot topic to the breakdown of the employer/employee contract.  It seems there was once this unwritten agreement between management and the staff that the Greatest Generation and Boomer parents grew to trust.

When we were all part of a company, working as cogs in a wheel, we didn’t have a specific need for personal branding or exposure.  Companies carried the torch for us and fought the branding battle for their employees.  Think of the 30 year worker in a factory or a bank.  There was a time when it was assumed that the job was one for life.  We didn’t need to be thinking about our personal brands or how the marketplace of employers or potential clients would perceive us.  But our need to network, connect, remain visible and, to a great extent, serve our employers in a different way, has grown, thus making branding very important.

In an article in CNN Money, a recent study showed the average person will have four jobs by the time they are 32 years old.  This is during a 10 year span out of college.  Today, the perception is employers are not as loyal to their employees, and employees have been quick to notice.  Young professionals rely on job hopping to secure positions with the most opportunity for advancement and the quicker path to top earnings.

So how do companies stay ahead of this trend and be looked at as a company new age employees wants to invest in for longer than four years?

Many thought leaders agree the ability to grow one’s personal brand begins with your company’s presence on the internet, how you and the company are perceived on social media, and the ability for others you work with to use online toolsCreate your brand advice to be searched and found.  I’m not talking about a logo or font here. I’m talking about the kind of personal brand built on the highly trusted views of peers, colleagues, clients and communities.

Dr.Prem.com states in a post, “Brands are promises that the consumers believe and it is all about understanding your unique attributes – your passion, skill, values and your strengths – and using them to separate yourself from your peers and competitors. A strong and efficient brand is a mix of trust, reputation, attention and implementation.”

It matters not what profession you’re in; your ability to be courteous and connect with people with emotional intelligence is vital to your success.  If you’re an Uber or Lyft driver, you are now instantly graded by the passenger that just got out of your car. If you’re a doctor, https://www.healthgrades.com, serves to let consumers measure your bedside manner. If you’re a restaurant or service provider, Yelp has become a standard for online acceptance. A myriad of sites allow for the grading, measurement and public opinions of accountants and lawyers to be shared. Like it or not, this is how personal branding is happening.

Here are three quick ways to start building your personal brand.

1. Start By Growing And Cultivating Your Own Skill Set. You never want to find your name stained on a review board. Making yourself memorable when with clients is how you enhance your brand.  Developing soft skills from learning to speak in front of the room, mastering networking conversations, and building like and trust with clients are brand building skills.  Today, for professional service firms, establishing yourself above the competition can require high-level skills like developing negotiation skills, co-development skills and facilitation skills.  Assess where your brand is now and what you can do to stand out.

2. Develop Your Firm’s Personal Brand. What is your firm’s presence online today? If you are not easily present or your firm’s brand is not clear, begin with a strategy around what you want your brand needs to look like both internally and externally. When you reinforce your brand’s promise of skill, values, mission and vision you commit to do it for the long haul. Only then, will implementing internal client service training, personality profile implementations, and culture building workshops build your firm’s profile from the inside out.  It also will contribute to everyone’s personal brand through one’s affiliation with the firm.

3. Work to Develop the Personal Brand of Others. The growth of your brand is ultimately a measurement of how successfully you grow the personal brands of others. Look for ways to develop and grow the team around you.  This can include implementing leadership programs, individual growth focused coaching programs, or women development programs.  Become a resource for your people. Build them up and watch you and your firm’s personal brand soar!

You want to be proactive in today’s competitive environment.  This is what personal branding is all about.  When you have your mission and vision in place, you’ll know the purpose behind every intention. And when you know the purpose for your actions, you’ll be far more effective at choosing the right suite of complementary skills, habits, connections, readings, and contributions to the world. Your brand will begin to quickly take shape.

When it comes to the accounting industry and professional services providers, The Rainmaker Companies provides programming and high level consulting and training in areas of growth for the practitioner or firm leader. When an accounting or professional services professional decides, truly decides and ACTS on his or her desire to lead, personal branding becomes a byproduct of that choice. You become the Leader and leadership becomes your brand.

 

Sherman Mohr
Enterprise Worldwide Associate Director at The Rainmaker Companies.