Branding Yourself as Indispensable

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How to use personal branding to get a job, keep a job, and advance in your career.

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  • Although the economy provides challenges(and some decisions are made in higher circles than at your manager’s level), knowing how to brand yourself can help you become someone who is seen as an integral part of the core operations of a company (someone who is part of the creative solutions process, and is too much of a contributor to let go).
  • Examples from my experience: Apple vs. Dell (Company that was going down, but rebuilt its image vs. company that damaged its brand in our eyes, through our customer experience; Honda vs. Toyota (Companies that were highly competitive and thought to be equally good until Toyota experienced some brand damage re “runaway cars.” Their reaction to this issue helped rebuild their brand.
  • We call our best engine “Old Reliable,” and the one that gives us a lot of issues “Temperamental Old Lizzy!” (If you had two great highly productive engines and only needed one (and they cost the same amount to purchase) would you choose the one that needs a lot of maintenance or the one that starts and runs every time, with minimum intervention on your part?) Managers spend a lot of time in maintenance mode. The more of a self-starter you are as an employee, and the better you get along with your team (and do not present emotional issues in the workplace), the easier our jobs are…and we LIKE our jobs to be easy! The more we have to stroke your feelings, prevent friction between you and other employees, and check to make sure you are operating in the way you should be,the less time we have for the actual business of the business.
  • Emotional intelligence = the ability to identify, assess, and control your emotions and the emotions of others.Business integrity = Ethical (honest, truthful) and consistent actions, values, principles, expectations, and performance in business. (Business integrity is applying the principals of integrity and ethics to business actions, while resisting the normal “spin” (half truths, omissions, and practice of putting your best foot forward while failing to talk about the stuff under the rug) that is generally deemed as acceptable in business circles. Does your “underbelly match your surface?”Business & Industry Knowledge = Knowledge of your business market, customers, suppliers, employees, subcontractors, costs, services, etc. as they relate to your competitors’ businesses, and to cutting-edge developments in your industry such as new technologies, processes, and procedures.Measurable Skills Sets = Software skills, business communications skills, sales abilities, etc. One of the key words here is “measurable.” Can you demonstrate superior competencies?
  • In interviews: I use a unique interview process to help reveal a candidate’s emotional I.Q. As part of that process, I ask for “10 words to describe you.” I have gotten answers like:* “difficult,” (rubs Hotei belly before touching computer or leaving a room), * “recovering” (from spouse abuse), * “obsessive” (about work process) etc. Good interview words? This is how people branded themselves! You also brand yourself in first impressions by what you wear, how organized you are in terms of samples, etc., and even by how you shake hands.Attire: Religious camp shirt/ ex-military button up –“yes ma’amDisclaimer: I respect candidates’ religious beliefs, but I question whether advertising them in an interview is a good idea. Even though the candidate wore a golf shirt, it was too casual for an interview. Do not wear clothing with advertising! Also, re military, I respect our military, however, if you appear too rigid, employers may question whether you can relax and be productive in a less formal work environment. My staff liked to have fun. The candidate in question looked like he might be allergic to fun. Employers hire for the personality fit as well as the skills set. Know what environments you would work well in.  When you shake hands: limp hand/soft grip is thought to represent being unsure of yourself tight grip is thought to represent someone who has a controlling personality firm handshake is thought to represent balanced person if you grip the firm handshake with your additional hand, it is thought to represent sincerity. Well, bless your heart!Through your resume: Are you truthful? Do you claim personal accomplishments that belong to a whole team? Have you identified your specific contribution? Do you have an actual brand/personal logo/name treatment on your resume? Have you let the employer see your personality, or are you candidate number 467?Online: (which Hannah and Ben are talking about this weekend, so I won’t go too deeply into this, however, I will tell you how I research/stalk potential new hires). I do not even have to be a “friend” of theirs. I Google them and go back several pages in search results. I go to their Facebook profile and look at photos (which generally are open access). I see who their top friends are and go on their friends’ pages to see if my potential candidate has any compromising photos there. I look up their immediate family members and any groups they show that they are affiliated with. By the time I am finished, I have a pretty good idea of the character of the person in question.Be careful what you post. You are branding yourself!
  • Exercise 1: Candidate with samples from articles on personal experience with spouse abuse. In interview with potential male client, expressed to me that she did not feel “safe.” –Pet agendas and issues/E.I.QNothing will interfere for the next year baby accommodations—lying/B.I.I don’t have to prove anything blow up re stand-up—E.I.Q/B.K./Skills?Here’s my contract – plagiarism – lying/B.I.The instant writing test/essay (Samples vs. what is actually produced when present.) lying—B.I./SkillsExercise 2: What 10 words describe you? (I need a brave volunteer. The rest of you can do this at your seat, in 30 seconds or so.) Be prepared to explain/defend your 10 words if asked. (I am measuring your ability to know yourselves, and to think quickly.) 
  • On the job: You build your brand by the job skills you demonstrate, the team interaction you have, the way you dress and conduct yourself, the way you interact with management about projects and tasks, and also how you contribute to the business as a whole, including how you build solutions to existing business problems.Learn about your company, your project, and your co-workers (in terms of what they do in the company). Stay on the cutting edge of your industry, and new technology and skills. Learn as much as possible about how your company makes its money, who its customers are, etc.Begin to see the business issues in your work environment, and how can you step up as a professional and integrate yourself into the business issues (not just the project issues) of your company. You can begin to see the whole picture regarding your company, and can become part of the process of building business solutions, so you are seen as a business-savvy professional, a visionary, and a profit center instead of a cost center.In Business Communications: Always chek your business communications for spelling and grammer errors. People will think less of you if you do not write effectevely.  Also, watch boundaries. Certain things should not be addressed in written communications. Have a conversation! Read and reread any communications where you are communicating problems and issues. Could your message be misconstrued? Did you keep the communications professional (without emotional barbs such as complaints, sarcasm, anger, competitiveness)?Do you feel like you are not advancing and may be in danger of being downsized? Some downsizing is due to the economy, but when an employer is choosing who should go, your “brand” may play a significant role in whether you make the “cut” and stay.
  • These are stories of real scenarios that have taken place over the past 20 years. Many of these people had great skills, but were not rehired for new projects. If you damage your brand with one person, it can spread.The BearThe HomeSchoolerThe Stay-at-Home Mom Raise We Formed a Company – What’s it to You? Mystery Electrical Storm Padding Time and Stealing HoursConflict of Interest – (Contracting with my client, and my client’s competitor) End RunThe Process of Processing InfoSandbox DuelsControlling Horse (Runs in many lanes)Horses that Bite and Horses that Sit --I just don’t know if I am doing a good job. Didn’t I tell you that I liked what you did? Yes, but I haven’t talked to you in a few days. And? Well, I don’t know if you are happy with what I am doing. Did I tell you I was unhappy with what you are doing? No. Well, did I compliment you on your last project? Yes. Did you do anything extremely different in the last two days? No. I just wasn’t sure whether you needed any more from me. Wouldn’t I ask you if I did? Well, yes, I guess so…but I just wanted to be sure that you were okay with what I was doing. and the BEST:B.P. Wars
  • If your first impression wasn't good or you do not feel that you are being noticed when it comes to promotions, build a better (second) impression by improving your brand, and providing better communications, and damage control measures where needed). Take responsibility for any past failures and tell your employer what you plan to do proactively (to change that behavior) in the future.Do not brand yourself as good or even great at your job. Brand yourself as indispensable because you contribute to innovative ideas and solutions to the “bottom line” for the company. Brand yourself as the glue that holds the team together. Brand yourself as the one who takes the time to analyze problems and potential fixes, and to suggest why certain solutions might be better than others. Brand yourself as the one who understands the pressures of management and strives to make your boss’s job easier. Brand yourself as the one who understands the products, customers, and business issues of your company. Brand yourself as the one person who is so integrated into various aspects of the business, that you absolutely cannot be the one that they let go (because too many things would fall apart)! 
  • Branding Yourself as Indispensable

    1. 1. Branding Yourself as Indispensable MARILYN WOELK President
    2. 2. Why Brand Yourself?In today’s economy, personal branding can help you: get a job, keep a job, and/or advance in your career.
    3. 3. What is Your Brand? What “product” are you promoting? (You!) You have a brand (good or bad). Is your brand known? Is your brand consistent? Is it positive? Is it damaged?
    4. 4. Brand Yourself or Others Will We (humans) like to brand things. We label things (and people). Your actions lead to your brand. Your inaction also leads to your brand. You need to brand yourself, promote that brand, and measure up to the brand you are promoting.
    5. 5. Brand PowerWhen building your brand, remember this formula: Emotional Intelligence + Business Integrity + Business and Industry Knowledge + A Measurable Skills Set = A Competitive Edge in the Workplace!
    6. 6. First ImpressionsYour brand is being measured/identified: when interviewing with a perspective employer or client for the first time (via branding words, attire, handshake, etc.) through your resume, and via your online presence.
    7. 7. Branding Exercises Exercise 1: These are branding issues from the past 15 years that are related to interviews. What part of the formula did these candidates miss, and what “label” would you give them? Exercise 2: What 10 words describe you?
    8. 8. Second ImpressionsYour brand is not only measured when you are applyingfor a job or trying to get a project, it is also measured: on the job, continuously, and through all business communications you create.
    9. 9. Build a Business CaseProvide a one-page analysis for management:Write down what you request, how it will benefit thecompany, how much it will cost, and where you will get it(or how you propose doing it if it is a processimprovement).Do not bring a problem to management, withoutproposing a solution in this manner.
    10. 10. Brands that Don’t Wear OffStories from “the Front” on avoiding brand damage that you often cant recover from…
    11. 11. Your Brand – Your Choice How you brand yourself is one of the few things that you have control over in your job! You need to brand yourself as emotionally balanced, self-confident, able to get along with others, honest, loyal, knowledgeable, business-savvy, progressive, solutions-oriented, and able to excel in a variety of measurable skills.

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