As professional communicators, we do a great job of explaining the benefits of a product, service and even another person’s work. When it comes to doing that for ourselves, we often struggle. Overcoming this roadblock unlocks confidence and sets us up for success throughout our career.
Earlier in my communications career, I was told, “You do great work, but no one knows who you are.” I had been frustrated about being overlooked for promotions and not being brought in to exciting projects. Hearing this feedback was difficult, but it opened my eyes. I made the decision that I would change my reality and become known for my work … but how?
I stumbled along the way, but I managed to develop a personal brand that resulted in national recognition and a series of promotions. I don’t want my fellow communicators to struggle any longer, so here are my best tips building your personal brand, getting results and growing your career.
1. Know the results and impact of your work.
As communicators, we are thought of by some as an expense. Our salaries, media buys, printing and other expenses are viewed as costs to the business rather than investments or cost savings. When we don’t have a clear return on investment like other departments, we need to communicate the value of ourselves and our work.
Do this by talking about the impact or result of your work. Responsible for writing and producing stakeholder reports? Rather than introduce yourself as a communications advisor, try saying, “I write about our company’s impact so that our investors are happy and continue to support us.”
Adapt this to your work. If you can align it to a business objective when speaking to leadership, you’re well on your way!
2. Demonstrate the importance of communications by sharing audience insights.
If your colleagues in other departments are laser focused on their work, offer a reminder to what the audience — whether that’s the public, investors or customers — will think.
Show the strategic thinking you’re capable of and tie an audience insight to a business goal. Or, share the results of a previous communications activity. Say something like, “78% of investors downloaded our online annual report, so they’re comfortable with digital activities,” or “112 customers reported positive feedback about this product feature using our online form, so we should make sure to include it in the next update.”
As communicators, we have access to more data than ever before. We should be using it to show our strategic insights and support the business at large.
3. Invite yourself to meetings.
I know, who wants more meetings on their calendar? I understand, but hear me out. This is one of the most effective ways to build relationships with your colleagues. Here’s what I did:
- I looked at which departments I needed to build relationships with in order to get to the next level of my career.
- I emailed the manager and requested five minutes on their next meeting agenda to see how my team and I could better support them with an upcoming project.
- I showed up and asked what questions they were hearing from the customer that they struggle to answer.
- They told me, and I offered to write a short Q&A guide for them.
- At their next team meeting, I showed up and presented the Q&A guide that addressed the questions they were struggling with.
- Following the meeting, I sent the guide in an email.
I did this a couple of times and pretty soon I was asked to attend regularly. Rather than create more work for myself, I would anticipate questions and challenges and help them problem-solve during the meeting. I became seen as someone who brought a lot of high-level thinking and strategy to their team. It positioned me as a leader.
Personal branding is about much more than colors and a logo. In fact, for professionals, those things are usually irrelevant. Personal branding for professionals is about being clear with the value you bring, demonstrating it and then having sharp messages to talk about it.
There are several parallels between personal branding and communications. Keeping the audience as the priority is chief among them. Just as you would when challenged by something in your communications, if you’re unsure of what to do or say when presenting yourself, ask, “What does my audience want or need to know?” Use that as your guide, and you can’t go wrong.
Kristen Dyck is the founder of AVRO Creative where she is a personal branding strategist and creator of Opportunity Magnet on LinkedIn. Her work helps driven women to exude confidence and stand out so that they get to the next level of their career or business. Dyck brings insights from her experience working with some of the world’s biggest brands like Coca-Cola, Powerade and glaceau vitaminwater to the exciting world of personal branding. Her clients go on to become thought leaders, members of the C-suite and receive top industry awards.