Want a seat at the table? Build your brand

In your career and beyond, find out how to uncover and be recognized for the values, passions, and talents that are uniquely you

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: My colleague is known for her great reputation, even by people who’ve never worked with her. Any tips on how I can also position myself as a “go to” person at my company?

Answer: It all starts with your personal brand.

The term “brand” gets thrown around a lot, especially when it comes to products, services, and organizations. But how do you build a personal brand, and why would you? We asked personal branding enthusiast Miri Rodriguez, a storyteller for IT Showcase at Microsoft, about what a personal brand is and why it matters. On Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and as a brand coach, Rodriguez shares insights on developing your brand, while also showcasing her own—”to be kind and feminine.”

With the goal of leaving not just an impression but a legacy, Rodriguez believes a personal brand “makes a promise to an audience with the hopes they will buy in.”

“And you’re the CEO of your corporation,” she said of personal branding. “It’s a combination of skillsets, attributes, your background, and your life’s transformative moments. It’s all of these things that make up who you are because it’s your DNA as a person.”

If you want to make your mark and evolve your career while showing the world what your brand stands for, check out her top tips.

1. Establish your brand promise

“When you think of how you’d position yourself, think of two key words that you would like to be known for,” said Rodriguez. If you’re having trouble, ask those closest to you to suggest adjectives that suit you best. Take your list and filter it down to the two positive traits that show up the most.

“Then fill out this sentence to build out your positioning statement: I am _________ and __________ because _________ in order to ________,” she added.

For example, “I am warm and energetic because I believe it is important to foster authentic and lasting relationships in order to grow myself personally and professionally.” Or, “I am inquisitive and determined because I want to discover new ways to be effective in order to show peers there’s always more than one way to accomplish goals.”

By identifying two positive, overarching traits that reflect your passions, values, and talents, this also ensures you’re leading with your authentic self and this is what you’ll come to be recognized for.

2. Live out the brand

Once you’ve identified your brand, Rodriguez advises that you remain true to it. “Ask yourself every day and in every situation, ‘am I living my brand with my actions, speech, and even the way I dress?'” Think of your brand in both professional and personal settings, she advised. Let it guide you—think of it as your north star.

This is what branding is all about. By nurturing your brand, you are setting the expectations of those around you and influencing how they grow to perceive you.

3. Take it digital

“Going social gives you exponential power to amplify your brand,” said Rodriguez. In fact, she has shared her message and expanded her reach worldwide as a result. Rodriguez currently mentors 15 people, many of whom were moved by her personal brand and reached out across her social channels.

“You must take a proactive approach,” she said. “Especially when it comes to your career, you must constantly [nurture] your online presence.” Share posts, content, images, and experiences that ring true to your authentic self, while accurately representing the personal brand you want to be recognized for, Rodriguez suggests.

While your social footprint will always be there, Rodriguez advises that you take time to clean up your social feeds and consider removing past posts that don’t fit well with your newly established brand.

“I sometimes can have a sarcastic humor, but I realized that for those who don’t know me personally, it may not come across as ‘kind,'” she said.

4. Evolve your brand

Don’t feel the pressure to identify your brand for life. Expect it to go through several organic rounds of changes during your lifetime, just like you.

Your brand should change over time as you continue to grow yourself. Rodriguez recommends evaluating your brand performance periodically (at least once a year) to see what’s worked and what hasn’t worked and then giving yourself permission to modify as much as needed. “It’s a culmination of the overall process,” she said. “Learn yourself. Like yourself. Love yourself.”