If you’re (what I call) a hustla and don’t own your own business, building your personal brand can be pretty difficult… especially the younger you are because you don’t have a lot of experience or a ginormous portfolio… yet.
Then, it happens to us all… we get a job at a great company, throw ourselves into our job, give all of our good ideas to this company we have a vested interested in, and generally never record all the great things we’ve brought to the table and have helped this company achieve.
As a young marketer, I spend most of my time and energy building the brand of my current employer (which is the University of Georgia), rather than focusing on myself and building my personal brand. Of course, all of the Mommas out there are probably proud of my dedication and selflessness, but if/when my time at UGA comes to an end, it will be very hard to market myself (if I were a typical young professional) because I haven’t spent enough time building my personal brand… I will just have a line on my resume that says, “Marketing Manager, University of Georgia.” Yippee… how exciting [*insert sarcasm here*].
So, that brings me to a very important question…
“How do you build your personal brand and stand out among your competition?”
Last week, I attended the Digital Summit Series in Atlanta (which was fabulous btw… you should definitely mark your calendar and attend next year) and sat through a session with the Chief Marketing Officer of Parkmobile, Jeff Perkins, who talked a lot about brand building. With each and every point that Perkins made, I felt more and more validated as a marketer… because I have been doing pretty much everything he talked about in regards successfully building my personal brand. And because of that, I’m going to share with you a few notes from his session.
Why Do People Leave Their Currently Jobs?
The first question we need to ask is, “Why do people leave their current jobs?” If you are satisfied at your current company, you wouldn’t need to build your personal brand to start looking for a new job, right? According to Perkins, people leave their jobs often times due to lack of opportunity within their current company, ban management, or the company culture not being a good fit.
How Do You Get The Job You Want?
The next question Perkins addressed was, “How do you get the job you want?” Often times, it’s hard to make a jump in title if you don’t have a strong connection with the company you want to work for. So, in order to show the target company you’re qualified to be a Director of Marketing, even though your current title is a Marketing Manager, according to Perkins, you should write a blog post about all of the ways you’re qualified and experienced to perform the duties of a Director of Marketing. (And for the SVPs of Marketing, CMOs, and Directors of Marketing currently reading this… I’m always open to new opportunities… connect with me =P.)
“If you don’t define yourself, someone else will.” -Jeff Perkins
You know what they say, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Same goes for marketing yourself. You need to position yourself as an Executive Marketer. But how? By answering this one question, “What do companies want?”
According to Perkins, you need to show your target company that you have a vision for growth… a vision for their brand. Show them you have the ability to lead a team… give examples. Show them you understand current trends and can thrive in the industry. And lastly, show them that you not only have a vision for their company, but you have a calculated plan and the ability to measure your results. There’s nothing more satisfying for a company that having numbers to back up your words.
Actually, the last point is probably the truest point of them all. In my current role, my boss is extremely weary of social media and its ability to drive conversion and ROI. He is CONSTANTLY seeking data and statistics showing that leads are being generated from our social channels and later converting into either clients or class attendees. Luckily, I’ve been pretty successful with social media and have been able to show its value, but not everyone is so lucky. So, if you have a method to your madness that can show ROI, articulately share that with your target company.
Share Your Knowledge
According to Perkins, if you’re an expert at something, you should write about it, speak about it, share your knowledge. There’s no better way to establish yourself as an expert in the market than to be published and have a few conference presentations under your belt.
One of the best ways to share your knowledge is to write articles on LinkedIn. If you write good content, people will want to read it and share it. Talk about brand exposure! Imagine writing an article about ways to grow your personal brand like a boss and having SVPs of Marketing, CMOs, and Directors of Marketing share your article with their network (*wink wink*)…. how amazing would that be? If you’re content is good enough, people will share it.
“But, What About Them?”
A lot of people are probably nervous to start promoting their brand while currently employed. They assume their employer will get mad and think they are seeking a new job. But according to Perkins, “Building your brand isn’t selfish. It benefits your current company too. YOU add value.” That little nugget of gold really stuck with me throughout the conference… because I was one of those people who thought it was a little selfish to be working so hard to build my own brand when I could be writing content and promoting the UGA Small Business Development Center instead. But then I realized, by building my own brand, I’m becoming more knowledgable and more credible as an industry expert. Who wouldn’t want to have a “well-known” (and when I say well-known… what I really mean is, “well-know by my 50 followers” lol) marketer working for their company?
By building your personal brand, you aren’t cheating on your current company. It doesn’t have to mean you are actively looking for another job, but rather trying to better yourself that your current company gets to benefit from. Could it lead to another job? Sure. But, life is all about opportunities and it you aren’t creating those chances where opportunities can happen, you’re really missing out on the chance to take your career for the next level.
Stalk Your Heroes
Ok. So, don’t STALK your industry idols/heroes, but rather build a relationship with them. According to Perkins, if you want to be a CMO, find CMOs who work for companies you would like to work for, reach out to them, buy them a coffee, and listen to their story of how they got to where they are. Learn from them. Turn them into your mentors. (*Praying that Michael Barber reads this posts and knows that I’m not stalking him… I just want him to mentor me haha.*)
Do the Opposite
I don’t think there could be a better motivational follow-up to this blog post that the example Perkins used in his session. He showed the following Seinfeld clip and summarized it as, “If what you’re doing isn’t working… DO THE OPPOSITE.” Essentially, too many people let others define them. Don’t let how people define you stop you from going after what you really want. If you want a CMO job… go get it! Stop telling yourself you aren’t qualified or the right fit. You are your greatest asset. Sell yourself.
- If you don’t define yourself, someone else will. Position yourself as an Executive Marketer.
- Share your knowledge through blogging. Show your value!
- Be selfish. Just because you are building your personal brand doesn’t mean you’re cheating on your current employer.
- Buy your want-to-be mentors a coffee. Learn from them.
- You are your greatest asset. “Sell yourself” to your target audience. If you can’t sell yourself to a company, how do they expect you to sell their company to other?
- Do the opposite. You might just be surprised.
Hopefully, you have picked up at least one nugget of gold that you can use to help take your career to the next level… or maybe even motivation to start building your personal brand. Whatever it may be, just remember that “If you don’t define yourself, someone else will.” So, don’t be afraid to get out there and share your knowledge.
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