Sam is not happy at his job.
He is often overlooked for promotion, and his boss seldom praises him. In fact, he is wondering if his boss even notices him.
John is almost the opposite. He tries very hard to be in the limelight. He often volunteers to represent his company at important meetings. He makes it a point to have lunch with the boss at least once a week.
But there is a problem.
John’s colleagues do not like him. They often talk behind his back, and complain that John likes to “blow his own horn.”
Both Sam and John need to improve something critical – personal branding.
Personal branding is not simply showing off in front of the boss. It is much more complex than that. It is an art rather than science. It requires balance and skill. Do too much and you start to invite disdain. Do too little and you start to blend into the office wallpaper.
Let’s learn from the gurus of branding – the top luxury brands in the world. How do theypromote themselves? How do they make us fall in love with them, and insist on buying them?
There are three key lessons they can teach us. These are three seemingly simple but profoundly powerful principles that will lead to a more successful career.
Principle 1: Substance
Luxury brands are highly regarded for their premium quality. How do we apply this to our career?
The world respects men and women of “substance” – people who are experts in their field, and who exhibit inspirational values.
Instead of thinking how to promote yourself, think instead of what skills do you have that are worth promoting? Are you excellent in what you do? If not, how can you become better?
Would your boss think of you first when he has an important project to be done? Would he think of you second? Would he think of you at all?
Would he trust you to complete it? Are you known for strong values like integrity and discipline?
Principle 2: Style
Spend some time watching TV commercials by top brands and average companies, and you will notice a significant contrast in style.
This is not merely how you look or the brand of your shirts. I am focusing on something much more important than that, namely how you carry yourself.
When you present a business report during meetings, do you inspire confidence? When you meet a client with your boss for the first time, do you make a strong impression? When asked for your opinion, do you share meaningful perspectives and innovative ideas?
Principle 3: Story
Have you noticed that the advertisements of top jewellery brands seldom focus on the gems and metals, but rather on touching love stories. Likewise, the best sports brands do not promote shoes and shirts, but the success stories of athletes.
These companies know that most people make purchase decisions based on emotional appeal, rather than logic.
How do you apply this principle to your workplace?
Show a different aspect of yourself to your colleagues, not just your professional side. For example, you may be passionate about volunteerism, or you may have interesting hobbies like baking or photography. Share stories with your boss and colleagues, and invite them to come along for your next expedition. I once had a colleague who conquered cancer, and shared with us helpful tips on health and nutrition.
(If you don’t have any passions or hobbies outside of work, you need to start one soon. Not for the sake of self-promotion, but to start living a more fulfilling life.)
All these stories and passions must be authentic, not made up. When you become known to your boss and colleagues as a real, live, three-dimensional being with a heart and soul, and colourful life outside of work, you become a lot more interesting and noticeable, all without you having to “blow your own horn.”
This is the irony of life.
When you are not focusing on personal branding, when you are instead investing your time and energy on self-development - upgrading your skills, speaking better, adding value to your team, pursuing your passion, helping your colleagues – you will find yourself naturally getting higher profile in the eyes of senior management, and succeeding in your career.
Are you ready to become a person with substance, style and lots of interesting stories?
If you enjoyed the above article, you will love the series of Personal Branding tips from Eugene Seah's Youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNJXaMDQe58J5v9Qcq0vydA
About the author
Eugene Seah was retrenched several years ago and had to quickly rebrand himself to create a new business and career in training. The first few months were full of failures and struggles, but fast forward a few years, and the personal branding principles that he practised helped him to become successful in a relatively new industry. He makes it his mission now to help others learn these personal branding principles, so that they too can differentiate themselves in their respective industries, and achieve their goals. He runs a series of workshops on various aspects of personal branding (eg branding yourself on Facebook and LinkedIn, finding your substance, differentiating your style, crafting your story etc). He's also frequently invited to deliver keynote speeches on personal branding. To connect with him and to know more about his story, visit www.eugeneseah.com