You know what you want to do as your dream job, you have a plan with a few paths to get there, and you are building a world class network. Amazing! But when someone thinks of you, what first comes to mind? What is unique about you? What differentiates yourself from others? Or maybe you are just another person in a list of all other potential candidates for your dream job? Don‘t be.
Just like the toothpaste we buy, the coffee we drink, or the smartphone we love, they all have a brand loyalty and awareness that you have around them. Keep in mind – you need a brand too.
First impression – the two sevens
Imagine you get on an elevator and you turn around to that person you always wanted to meet. You have only a couple floors to introduce yourself. What are you going to say to be memorable, different, and make that person to be excited to speak with you more before you both get off the elevator?
There have been many studies on this, but most agree you have only seven seconds to make a strong first impression. Think this through, practice it, time yourself. This will help you be ready for that unplanned encounter and be able to almost instinctively do this well.
What is more, other studies suggest that only seven percent of communication is what you say. The other 93% is non-verbal: body language being 55% and your tone of voice being 38%. If you want to exude a modest, but confident approach to your target, you need to practice this as well in your mind and with a close friend. For example, some of the most brilliant people I know struggle with tone of voice and body language and don’t get properly heard.
What are you going to say to show your uniqueness?
You should be able to uniquely position yourself with your brand – you aren’t just another help desk agent – you are a climbing tech rock star solving people’s technical problems in 5 languages 325 times a week in 14 countries. And oh by the way, you know that your target is an avid rock climber! But let’s save more of this networking approach for a future blog, right now you need a brand.
A strong brand will evoke emotion. It will also immediately put into context your expectations from that brand – McDonalds, Apple, and Nike all trigger immediate emotions from people – some positive and some negative. Of course you want your brand to resonate with people that will hire you for your next job. If it doesn’t resonate, then maybe you are looking for the wrong job?
Brand alignment with who you really are
Your brand should also align with your abilities and passions, so that it is directly tied to your actions and hopefully is aligned with your career plan (check my previous blog for tips & tricks about career planning). If after some soul searching, you find your actual passions and authentic brand is something not aligned with your career ambitions, it is probably time to come up with another career plan.
Just like McDonalds would have a hard time changing it’s brand recognition to fine Italian dining, you will have the same challenge if your brand is not aligned with your previous experience and real ambitions.
Who is your target audience?
As we are talking about your personal brand around your career, not your award winning barbeque ribs hobby, you need to think about who you want to target. It is probably a few different constituents. Certainly people inside your current company today, whether they are decision makers or influencers, who can help your career progress (why is it important to check progress, find out here). Perhaps it is peers in the industry. Perhaps it is targeted companies you would like to work for some day.
You should also consider does your brand line up well with your dream job before you retire. Can people make the leap from where you are today and think “sure, John can do that job” either today or someday? If not, reconsider your brand – or – rethink your dream job. If you are early in your career, just out of college, it will be harder to think that you can be the CEO of the company. That being said, you want to build your brand over time to get you there.
So, in summary, you need a personal brand. Remember the two sevens (7 seconds for a first impression and 7% of communication is what you say) when you are articulating your brand. Make sure your brand is authentic – it is you, not some fictional character that you hope to be in the future. And also – make sure you are targeting the right audience.
What’s mine personal brand? You can follow me on Twitter as @johnwalshiii. And I also kindly encourage you to check updates of this blog as I share my personal insights and experiences everytime.
Keep charging, stay healthy, and share your brand!