Because I help companies promote and protect their reputations, “brand stewardship” is always top of mind. And when it comes to one’s career, brand stewardship is critical to success. Nurturing and enhancing one’s professional “brand” should be a top priority in any career journey, because “branding” impacts chances for success and is among the few things one can control. Challenging to establish and maintain, brands require careful nurturing and deliberate action, because your personal brand ultimately becomes your calling card.
Personal brand stewardship should incorporate:
Prompt responses to emails, calls and other client communications is mandatory, as is correct spelling and grammar and professional language. Maintain a proactive, problem-solving stance, and avoid office politics. Separate work and personal business social media accounts, and maintain discretion when interacting with work-focused social platforms like LinkedIn.
Presence and visibility are career-enhancers, and elevating one’s office profile can create a positive image with colleagues and management. Enhanced visibility can come from being on time to work and meetings, being readily available to clients and colleagues, and being a good teammate by offering thoughtful comments and proactive client suggestions.
Taking Initiative and Planning Ahead
Initiative and planning show that you’re committed to the job. Volunteering for key projects, as well as seeking mentorship and advice, will serve you well. Being prepared and proactive – including keeping task project schedules so deadlines don’t slip – prevents surprises and positions you as a reliable teammate. Planning ahead also includes having a coverage plan when out sick or on vacation.
Conflict is part of developing client solutions and working with others. Knowing when and how to disagree respectfully is crucial. Rather than being a “yes” or a “no” person, carefully contemplate each issue. Avoid big emotions; instead, take time to think things through and talk directly with people to resolve disagreements.
Simply put, don’t tell rude jokes, talk smack or act entitled based on seniority or rank. When possible, skip the office romances and maintain privacy.
Learning From Mistakes
Learning from mistakes is critical. Maintaining credibility means remediating mistakes as soon as possible and being accountable to stakeholders. Transparency and truthfulness will limit the damage and enable learning from the experience.
Moving ahead relies heavily on networking, and professional events and associations offer great venues to build a personal brand. Networking with other professionals is the first step in establishing the long-term relationships that lead to new business referrals, job leads or endorsements that can help you move up the ladder.
A strong personal brand is central to advancement, and if you’ve cultivated relationships with your peers and managers, they should be open to discussing your career ambitions and offering mentorship along the way. Asking about your next career steps is totally okay, and managers can be helpful guides when it comes to developing a career plan, as well as recommending educational opportunities, events, organizations, and individuals who can help you get where you want to go.
Overall, personal brand stewardship will drive the perceptions that will shape your workplace reality. Proactive management of your brand – combined with hard work – will ultimately serve as powerful tools for achieving your personal and professional goals.