Education

For best career success: Brand yourself

Ever had the feeling that others are getting credit for your good work? It's a problem, says executive leadership coach John M McKee. In this article, he uses the example of a hotel chain to provide insight for career success.

 "In retrospect, it was ridiculous: I should have developed all my hotels under one name."

The speaker was Ian Schrager, in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. Often called the "father of the boutique hotel," he was discussing why he made a bad decision when he chose to create a chain of unique hotels each with a different "brand name." He says he now realizes that if he'd used just one name for all of his ventures, the combined value of his properties would have been significantly greater.

The same thing holds true for your career.

Over my years as a corporate leader, business coach, and consultant, I've known a ton of great executives as well as leaders of departments and companies. Those who have been the most conscious of the importance of their reputation, or "brand," usually enjoyed far greater success. I don't mean the glory-hogs or those who are calculatingly focused on getting credit first and foremost. I'm talking about competent players who just took a little time to ensure that they were properly recognized for their successes.

This doesn't mean that they didn't share the recognition for success with others who deserved it as well. Often, they would go out of their way to share. They just did it in a way that reinforced their value to the organization without taking away from the others involved.  Done properly, it's a good management approach, while at the same time, a very smart career strategy.

Think about it:

If you're the boss and are looking for someone internally to head up an important department, take the lead on a new initiative, or make an existing area more efficient, you're going to look first at someone who has a reputation for getting things done.

Similarly, if you're a boss at another company looking to hire someone who can bring fresh thinking, you are going to find out if there is someone in the industry who has a great reputation -- or brand -- and go after her or him.

It's entirely to your benefit to build your brand.

In the Bloomberg article, Schrager notes that if he'd focused on a one-branding approach, it would have had the additional benefit of making it harder for competitors to steal his ideas and knock off his hotels' uniqueness. This is the case in corporate life as well. The good news is that this allows a large organization to "learn" and build on success of one individual to benefit the company. However, be aware of the copycat who then takes credit for the great idea while leaving you out of the equation. Taking credit is simply smart career management, so do whatever you can to be seen as the originator.

Here's to your future!

John

Leadership Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

40 comments
StevePotman
StevePotman

In order to succeed you need to find your unique strength and build a strong personal brand. Build yourself up to better yourself. I got a lot of help from Career Successions with building a personal brand. I recommend them and the outplacement services they offer. Check them out at http://www.careersuccessions.com

JNStarwood
JNStarwood

Remember to recognize others! Not only do bosses want to know that you can deliver results; your colleagues want to know that you're a team player. Recognizing others is now easier than ever. Many companies have recognition programs. You can learn more from you HR representative. I prefer to make a LinkedIn 'Recommendation'. They have an impact that extends beyond the immediate employer. __ Joseph Starwood (www.JosephStarwood.com)

rishidev.gupta
rishidev.gupta

You need to show what you are capable off, what you have done, so BRAND yourself.

mahadeva_sarma
mahadeva_sarma

While I have to agree with the points stated,i.e. that one must brand oneself to have a great career, I have seen in my professional life that there are many examples where the so called successful people have simply and unabashedly "stolen" the credits of others. And they could get away with the rewards because they had the "right connections" to get ahead...

jthrongard
jthrongard

Best career move I ever made was I literally branded myself. I bought custom USB drives, built a digital portfolio and gave myself a brand. I then sent these out to about 50 employers that I wanted to work for and I got calls for interviews with 40 of them. Went from a crummy job to a great one! The company I bought the USB drives from was http://www.bizdriveusb.com in case anyone cares.

SecurityFrst
SecurityFrst

I think you article is true to a point, but I believe that old clich? of who you know still stand true. Trying to grow a security consulting business, educating the world about the security clearance process and market an eBook guide on the security clearance process has been a challenge. Diane Griffin President Security First & Associates. http://www.securityfirstassociates.com

Tammy2
Tammy2

In survey - you should have had another choice. Don't know how - but will do it now.

gjansen
gjansen

tough world out there.

BogdanC
BogdanC

Reading this was a waste of time. Telling just how important is to build a personal 'brand', the whole idea revolving around getting credit, half of the article. But, guess what, no advice on how to achieve it, or something you can actually use.

Gideon.Teh
Gideon.Teh

Agreed totally with what shared by John M. Give credit where credit is due. Reward yourself when it is really appropriate to do it. Selling self ability, flexibility and integrity in the corporate are the real things to do if you are mindful of your career pathing. I missed the boat in the past and wanting to do the branding more... Cheer! Gid

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

" I'm talking about competent players who just took a little time to ensure that they were properly recognized for their successes. ... they would go out of their way to share ... in a way that reinforced their value to the organization without taking away from the others involved. Done properly, it's a good management approach, while at the same time, a very smart career strategy." And one does this how?

CareerCoach
CareerCoach

This makes more sense with each passing year.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I'm not arguing your statement, but the people who are going to count are the ones who have benefitted from your services. I believe I have a reputation here in TR as an Apple fanatic, but I also know that I have a reputation here as knowing most of what I talk about. I talk from experience, not from education. This is a hindrance to me in some areas, but I've also lived a lot of what is discussed here. In particular, branding is one place I have experience--both my own, and others. I've seen what works and I've seen what will cause a downfall. Growing your business requires building your reputation as a business. It appears you have done so to at least some extent; what you need to do now is to ask your clients if you can use them as reference for potential clients. Some may say 'no', but most should say 'yes' if they're happy with your work. Writing is a different game. You have no reputation as a writer and honestly building one as an author is far harder than building a business. Again, you have to prove yourself. You have to write to become known and your query letter to an agent or publisher is going to be the only sample they'll have to go on. By now I'm sure you already know this. Look for ways. Since it's an ebook, look for ways to self-publish and make yourself visible. I'm sure you've read enough articles to figure out how.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

They're probably required if you want to work at a 'body art' shop.

Shankar Mukherjee
Shankar Mukherjee

I don't believe at all in self branding.What is HR doing then? In India self branding is similar to 'blow one's own trumphet' and only done by incapable ambitious mind. Professionals are to be judged by competency,capability,productivity,attitude, etc.I hope such useless topics are never discussed which are detrimental to normal working ability.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

[i]"And one does this how?"[/i] By being good enough at what you do to make yourself noticed. I happen to know a woman who started as a phone tech at an ISP and is now a Lead Systems Administrator for one of the largest banks in the world--without any formal computer sciences education. How did she get there? She became so good as a phone tech that the ISP's systems admin taught her everything in how to run the company's systems. When he left for another job, she was immediately promoted into his place and helped grow the ISP through improved efficiency and reliability. When a customer had a problem, she responded and cleared that problem in such a way that when a job fair for a certain bank came up, he sent her an invitation to attend and told her he would be there to introduce her around. Three interviews later and she was hired on the spot for her knowledge and skills, totally disregarding any lack of formal education. She's been working for that bank for over ten years now, and has turned down several offers of promotion where she felt she had no experience or skill and accepted others as stepping stones to learn the skills to accept the promotions she turned down previously. In other words, she made her [i]brand[/i] by being the best at what she did and modest enough to acknowledge where she didn't have the knowledge or skills. She is known by name by company officers all the way up to the CIO and is frequently called upon to offer her opinion on certain technology tasks within the company. She has done exactly what John discusses and has succeeded far beyond what even she thought possible as little as 12 years ago.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Become the subject matter expert and teach. Years ago I was in CAD production. Noticing the lack of standards I campaigned successfully for standardization, which we all know is key to efficiency. Of course who better to teach the masses than the one who came up with the standards? I started holding regular CAD training meetings for the entire office. Over time I became recognized as the person who not only knew CAD the best, but understood how to effectively use it in production. Successfully branding myself as the CAD expert lead to becoming the computer expert, which lead to becoming head of IT. Of course at the time I was not aware I was ?branding myself?, I was just trying to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. I was not a glory hound either, I just saw a need and filled it. Part of that was making sure everyone else did their part as well. I am a firm believer in that statement you quoted, and it has served me well.

keithspragg
keithspragg

I totally agree - the article describes the issues of why to do this, but gives absolutely no advice on how to achieve it - nor does it offer any suggestions on where to get it from - at least there's now a link below this to give some kind of idea of what to do. I think worse was the email this was linked on made me feel that I'd get more out of this.

Elvis.GodZilla.777
Elvis.GodZilla.777

Hi All, When I was a young aspiring (person in engineering) I would submit many, many, a resume for the jobs being applied for, but always with a twist. I would always brand myself as beneficially different. I was a drafter/designer that could build a computer network, setup printers, design in 3D, etc..., whatever would be a wow factor for the company and at the same price as everyone else that was applying. Well they paid me to do whatever they found for me to do, which often lead to things that I had not done before, thus improving my repertoire of skills and my resume. Maintaining the awesomeness is only a challenge if you can't find your niche. Now go find it.

mckinnej
mckinnej

This smacks of being another "get rich quick" sham, 12-step program, or management theory where the primary objective is to make the author a bunch of money. It is really common sense and attitude. Here are my personal notes on what you really need to do. Make sure your boss and your boss' boss (and boss', boss' boss if there is one) know who you are. They should know you not because you're running around with your nose up their butts, but for what you do and what you're worth. But how do you do this without looking like you're bragging or a glory hound? Keep a professional diary/journal. I'm not talking about some bogus rambling nonsense. Bullet points are all you need. Every day before you leave work write down what you accomplished that day. Things like "Fixed problem x, improved efficiency y% - saved $z" are best, but you can also include more mundane things like "Completed and filed TPS report". This journal is not only great for letting your chain of command know what you do (and therefore who you are and how valuable you are), but come appraisal time it should provide more than enough justification for an outstanding rating (and bonus). If you really want to get maximum use out of this you should build a summary each month and send it up the chain. It can also give you more resume material than you know what to do with. :) If you are interested in working outside of your current company then you need to meet people. The best way I know to do that without looking like an idiot is by joining trade, professional, or local business organizations. Those are great conduits to making other people aware of you. Always carry a few copies of your resume to the meetings! I'm sure the author has a million other little things you can do, but those are gravel. These are the big rocks you need to work on.

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

When I was last looking for work after redundancy, My CV started off with a statement that I was an "Engineer of Data Communication Solutions" and then listed some of the major companies where I had helped supply systems. I think that it helped to get me my last job. The other thing about that article is that this guy had a number of hotels, each with their individual characteristic, we are individuals trying to sell ourself, and therefore trying to fit our unique capabilities into the requirements of the job that we are applying for. Perhaps one advantage of his approach is that he could then see what characterisitics the punters liked and bend his whole chain into that form.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Human Resources knows nothing about you, and even if you told them what you did and how you did it, they would remain ignorant; their job is to find the applicant who [i]looks[/i] like a good fit and hire them. It ends up being the new hire's supervisors and manager's jobs to find out if the individual is really capable of the job for which they were hired. With HR's lack of understanding of the tasks required of the applicant, all the applicant has to do is hype himself into the job and hope he's up to the real tasks assigned once hired.

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

you are a commodity, and if you don't let people know you are there, ready, willing and able, then someone else will get the job.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"In India self branding is similar to 'blow one's own trumphet' and only done by incapable ambitious mind." In the US, if one does not blow one's own trumpet, no one else is going to blow it for him. Here HR is not involved with seeing that one is able to advance one's career. Even if HR was involved, they can't help outside the company.

bsippo
bsippo

The original article drew attention to a problem which can arise in the workplace, or for that matter in many other places. There was no reason for him to tell us exactly what to do about it. If I'm gettig bad results the question I must ask is "What can I do about it". Not "What can someone else do about it". The article specifically warned against the personal trumpet blowing approach, but otherwise left us to our own resources. It needs to be so, as there are so many variables in the work, the fellow workers, employers, ourselves, etc all with wildly differing personalities to be balanced against each other and against our own individual hopes. These are not the sorts of thngs you can achieve by appealing to someone else. Bill

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

But unlike some other lousy teachers, at least I know it. I have a hard time expressing concepts I now take for granted, and then I get frustrated with my inability to reach those I'm addressing. Unfortuantely, that frustration with myself often comes across as impatience with my audience.

jgallagher
jgallagher

If TexasJetter were branding himself as a forward thinking innovator this post would be a great example of to achieve this! Maybe some company is Texas will see this and offer him a new job. Wilder things have happened. The more you put yourself out there the more likely it is that a new opportunity will present itself.

SSandersTX
SSandersTX

Thank you, Stephen! The linked article gets to the basics of how to create a career brand. If I want to do more research there are other tools available from there. The TechRepublic article should have included some of this information. It's getting to be pretty typical of TR articles that promise a hamburger and give you a bun but forget the meat.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I don't care if you're a simple technician or a published writer, your [i]brand[/i] is what identifies you and your work. Of course, you can kill your brand much more easily than you can create it. Think about M. Knight Shamalan: He built himself a reputation for creating edgy, exceptional movies that viewed somewhat ordinary events in an extraordinary way. He goes out to recreate someone else's work, and bombs totally--his latest production garnering some of the worst reviews ever for the industry. Think about your favorite movie directors; think about your favorite TV shows; think about your favorite books; they all have something in common--they've created a [i]brand[/i]--an identity. You have to do the same for yourself. If you're a superior troubleshooter, then create a 'brand' for troubleshooting. If you're better at network design, then create a 'brand' for yourself in network design. The whole point is that you want to ensure that [i]you[/i] are the one chosen to perform that certain type of job that could help advance your career. Rather than being a mere technician, you become a supervisor in that field. If you prove you can supervise and excel with your group, you'll be picked for the next step up the ladder. Simply put, by branding yourself, you become a person others look to for answers. That is, of course, as long as you've created a positive brand. Conceit and 'hype', as you put it, can put a negative brand on you that will be difficult to remove. If you build a reputation as conceited and self-promoting, then you'll kill any chances you have. It's not that you must shove yourself into people's faces, claiming you're the best at any given task, but that you must demonstrate competence at the tasks you do and make yourself good enough that people will notice. You build your brand not through advertising, but through doing your tasks efficiently and well. Your last paragraph is a perfect example of your form of 'hype.' Yes, if you go to a job fair or something of that sort, then definitely carry your resume--several copies; but if you're joining trade, professional or local business organizations, the last thing they want to see is your resume. You have to build a reputation; that reputation is your brand. If you make a reputation of crying, "I want out of the place I'm working," your fellow members are going to wonder why and probably go behind your back to find out what kind of worker you really are. If you're there to be a peer among peers, that's a different story. They'll learn about you through discussions and during conferences and conventions. If they discover they need someone with your particular skill set, they may, then, consider asking if you'd be willing to change employers. They won't even consider a whiner. In other words, my friend, I believe your viewpoint is exactly opposite of what is needed to build a name for yourself. Trade organizations--like service organizations--tend to view membership as 'invitation only.' You pretty much already have to have a reputation in your field to get invited in. This isn't true of all of them, but I can assure you that you'll never get above the first rank if you can't do what you claim.

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

But I never got rich. I used to finish every day by making a things to do list, which I could knock of most of them in a few minutes in the morning and look good. This had the benefit of allowing me to forget them until I got in in the morning, and not worry about them overnight. I always carried copies of both a short CV and a full one to meetings/exhibitions etc.

GlennHughes
GlennHughes

Renamed as 'branding' as it is a more modern phrase I guess! Yes this is all good stuff and been around for years. I think what the author is saying is make a conscious effort to 'manage the evidence' (another old phrase) but readers wanted some more concrete tips. I reckon the next HR/CV/self marketing ace will be to market yourself like a service/business benefit. 'Glenn has many years senior management experience delivering continuous IT operational and service improvements exceeding his 99.5% SLA target an impressive 91.23% of the time (measured over a calendar month)' !!!

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Had not thought of that, but you are correct. Community interaction and networking are great skills to have.

eleffler
eleffler

I thought I was going to retire from a previous job, however events overtook plans, bosses changed and suddenly I was looking elsewhere for my living. I had been active in a major users group and within 30 days, I was working in another company, someone knew I was available and passed my information along. We should always have our eyes open because we have no control over anything except our reaction. By the way, joining a users group is a great way to help others and gain from the help from others. Ed Leffler http://www.lefflerlabs.com

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Most of the questions I've asked in this discussion were driven by my general curiosity about almost any subject. For me, the responses have provided general knowledge, but nothing I plan on using. I should have mentioned that earlier. I don't see any benefits to me personally to be worth the resources expended (mostly time) to actively build a 'brand'. (I despise the term; what happened to 'reputation'?). I'm not job hunting, having had only three in my 27 years in IT. I plan to be where I am until retirement, and the company business forecast makes that look possible. I'm not interested in a managerial position; the Army gave me several years at taxpayer expense to learn that I didn't like that type of work even on a part-time basis. It's certainly not why I'm in IT. Until a couple of years ago, the turnover in our department was pretty slow. I was on good terms with most of my former IT co-workers when they left. Staying in touch with them consists mostly of Christmas cards. I don't go to trade shows more than once every three or four years, and I don't go to bars at all. I haven't found a professional organization that interestes me around here, and I'm not driving two hours each way to participate in one.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Unless you work some place unusual I am sure some staff has come and gone. These people have formed an opinion of you and your skills/talents. This represents an extension of your circle and is in part the basis for your ?brand? outside your workplace. Everyone does have a brand, the question is if you are actively participating the creation, expansion, and maintenance of your brand, or if you just let it happen.

drewcollier
drewcollier

"If I have a reputation or 'brand' outside of my current workplace and this joint, I'm unaware of it. I strongly doubt the rest of the world knows I exist." Your work community is always smaller than you think. Your managers speak with managers in other companies in the same vertical. They sing your praises or laugh at your failures, which one is really your choice. It is in your best interest to be known in your industry. Volunteer to speak at a local conference, heck speak in your company. Give a lunch and learn on a new program your rolling out or offer to run a training session for new user orientation. People start to associate you with being an "answers" guy/gal and your "street cred" grows. Before you know it, your at a vendor lunch or happy hour and your talking to a peer from another company and they say "oh yea, I heard you were the one that [insert success story here]"

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Think about your favorite movie directors; think about your favorite TV shows; think about your favorite books; they all have something in common--they've created a brand--an identity." Two things struck me about this statement. First is this is a list of things aimed at the general public; I suspect few TR members are trying to reach that audience. Second is that all of these have professional publicists with the skills to build those brands. If I have a reputation or 'brand' outside of my current workplace and this joint, I'm unaware of it. I strongly doubt the rest of the world knows I exist.