In the early days of the circus you often found entire families performing. Take the “spectacular flying trapeze family!” as an example. As a kid, it was exciting for me to watch how each family member performed a different act or routine and then became known and remembered for doing it well. Although they all swung from bar to bar, each one perfected their own act – and built a reputation around that special ability. They found their natural talent and refined it.
That’s what we have to do today in each of our careers. You must identify what comes naturally to you and then perfect it. Knowing this will help you focus your career growth and also develop your niche reputation. It’s what will set you apart in your department or organization so that managers say, “Oh, give that project to Lois. No one could handle it quite like she does.”
As you know, everyone in the workplace has a reputation, some good and some not so good. This reputation is essentially your brand, or at least a huge component of your brand. What are you known for? What problems do people turn to you to solve and how do you go about doing it? What tasks do people expect you to do well? Your title doesn’t define your brand; the way you can answer those questions does.
But how do you begin to create (or recreate) your own reputation or “brand”? The process starts with looking at yourself. If you are like most people I work with, I’m guessing it’s easier for you to name the things you’re not good at, right? That’s completely normal as it’s much harder to focus on your strengths and even harder to articulate them so that they have real meaning.
If I asked you about the specific strengths you bring to your organization, how would you respond? That you’re good with people? Dependable? Great at managing details? Those responses are fine, but what are they really saying about you? These are responses a lot of people could give. These are generic strengths that leave the listener thinking that there’s nothing all that unique about what you can deliver.
Try this: Think about someone in your work environment who stands out. How would you describe them? Would it sound something like this?
“My coworker Owen is the best. He has an ability to analyze very complex financial data and simplify that data down to the basics, so everyone on the team can understand, and then go on to explain it to our clients.”
Wouldn’t you say this description of a professional strength has more meat to it? It’s more defined and gives a better explanation of Owen’s unique value to the organization.
So the challenge I’m giving you is to develop personal branding statements that tell the listener specifically how you work and how your efforts, output or methods are invaluable. If you have trouble knowing where to start, think about what comes naturally to you. I could learn how to work with data and numbers better than I do right now, but it will never be something that comes naturally for me – but that’s just me!
If this topic interests you, learn more in my book RINGMASTER: 8 Strategies For Becoming A Star Performer In The Midst Of Change