If words had superlatives, I can pretty much bet (someone else’s) life savings that the term BRAND would win for Most Popular Word.

Interrupt any office conversation or step inside your favorite coffee shop in America and more than likely you’re going to hear the terms: Brand and Branding.

Every company, business and product has a brand and whether you believe it or not, so do you. As a career strategist, one of my main objectives is to help professionals articulate their professional brands confidently and accurately.

Think of your professional brand as a thoughtful way of defining how you want to be seen in your professional world. When you create a professional brand as part of an overall career management strategy, it gives you focus, motivation and passion. Reflect on what you want to exude when others think about you as a career professional.

My clients typically shy away from the conversation of branding. They believe it’s up to multi-million dollar companies to brand their products and services, invest in their marketing strategies and ‘sell themselves’ to potential buyers.

It’s hard for them to conceptualize a branding agenda for everyday career professionals like themselves. This is far from the truth. In this economy, you cannot sit by the phone and just hope someone calls and hires you tomorrow. There is only one way to get potential employers to know who you are and that is by telling them!

What if you’re already employed?

Well, how can you get a promotion if you’re not conveying your results and presenting your accomplishments?

Self-promotion will help you make critical connections that will advance your career and improve your networking experiences. We are so accustomed to being humble and not talking about our achievements to others. We were brought up in households that taught us to talk about ourselves only at a minimum.

Branding yourself leads to promotion.  Silencing yourself leads to demotion.

One important step in building your professional brand is by telling your story. Your story makes you unique and if you can effectively tell your story, this will help you stand out from other professionals who have never mastered this skill.

Here are 5 steps that you can begin immediately to help you start the process of professionally branding yourself.

1. Jot it Down:

Ask yourself, “What do I want to be known for in my professional career? What characteristics do I want my managers, co-workers and future employers to associate with me? What are the adjectives that I want people to think about when they hear my name?” Write down your answers.

2. Break it Down:

After you’ve created a list of the qualities that you want people in your professional realm to think of when they see, hear and reflect on your skills, you will have a list of your professional brand adjectives. Now, group the items that are similar and these areas will be the foundation of your professional brand.

You should have at least 3-4 target areas. For example, let’s say your background is in Computer Science, four possible target branding areas could be: Information Technology Expert, Technical Assistance, Training Facilitator, and Resourceful.

3. Be Comfortable Talking about Yourself:

Take your target branding areas and practice speaking about who you are, what you’ve done, where you’ve done it, and what you plan to do in your next position.

Be able to clearly answer the: Who, What, Where, and When questions while conveying your professional brand. Be able to sell your brand within 30 seconds.  I like to call it your elevation speech.

Make it concise, clear and captivating.

4. Branding is NOT Bragging:

Before you begin speaking to others about your professional brand, you must first understand that speaking about your accomplishments does not make you conceited. Confidence is not conceit. Again, if you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities, why would a hiring manager believe in you?

5. Join the Home Shopping Network Team:

If you can’t promote who you are and what you bring, why would anyone buy it? I want you to sell yourself as if you were advertising the latest vacuum cleaner for the Home Shopping Network. Go home today and turn the channel to the Home Shopping Network for 5 minutes and observe a host. Notice his/her confidence, communication skills, energy, and their product knowledge.

They aren’t saying that their vacuum cleaner is the best vacuum ever created or that the other vacuums on the market aren’t worthy of being in your home. No, the message that’s presented is, “Here’s an amazing product and I’m going to tell you what it does, why it works, what it’s capable of doing, and why you should buy it.” Don’t wait to present your brand and your worth!

It takes time to build professional relationships and trust. Put yourself and your professional brand out there and over time, you’ll see unimaginable results.


by Dr. Lisa Matthews