How to develop your personal brand and progress up the corporate ladder

In a highly competitive market, establishing a personal brand is an essential component of career progression

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Developing a personal brand is the only way to truly stand out from the crowd

The technology sector can be fiercely competitive. With a reputation for attracting some of the finest minds the world has to offer, moving up the corporate ladder is no walk in the park. Having worked in the space for a number of years, I’m always surprised by the number of talented people who simply think they will get noticed by quietly going about their business.

When you work in an industry like tech it’s important to consider how other people perceive you, and to make sure you use that perception to stand out from the crowd. Yes, hard work is often recognised, but having a personality, becoming known in your company, or being renowned for doing something excellently will often hold the key to many a new door.

I like to think of standing out from the crowd as working on your personal brand. Just as super successful companies like Apple or Johnson&Johnson have spent billions of dollars enhancing their image, get it right and you too can reap the rewards of a successful brand.

Having a personality, becoming known in your company, or being renowned for doing something excellently will often hold the key to many a new door

Unfortunately, it’s not something that’s widely taught, whether at school, university or in company training. However, it’s important people adopt it as an essential part of their career toolkit to drive their future in the direction they want.

Think of brand building much like building a house. You need to build from the ground up, building up a brand people admire, trust and, most importantly, remember.

Get your foundation in place
Most people have no idea where they want to be in a year, let alone five. Working in the fast-paced world of technology, it’s easy to think in the moment and not give too much consideration to the future.

You need to invest in your future and career by giving it some serious thought. No one else will do it for you. This is like laying the foundations.

Mixing the cement
Next, select three things you want to be known for, these are your personal brand ‘bricks’ that you will continue to lay and build on. Start by thinking about what differentiates you from everyone else, and don’t just opt for values that you think sound good. Most importantly of all, they need to be authentic.

For instance, if you want to be known as ‘the doer’ or the ‘closer’, don’t just start declaring yourself as that – actions speak louder than words. You need to show people you are and prove it to them. One simple way of doing this is aiming to go to every meeting and show what you bring to the project at hand. This means no more shrinking in them, you won’t get recognised as someone who has their act together otherwise.

And remember, persistence is key here: studies suggest it takes people five to seven impressions to remember a brand. So, keep it up!

Get those windows shining
When you’ve started to make good headway on building your personal brand, it’s important to take time to reflect. No I’m not suggesting some yoga retreat up in the mountains, I simply mean taking 15 minutes one evening to think about how your personal brand is developing. Critique what you’ve chosen to be known for and determine whether it is right for you.

Don’t get complacent; personal branding is all about consistency

Don’t be afraid to tweak and edit these brand points; I learn different things about myself each day and as we grow older our values change, so you need to be flexible.

Time for tiling
The roof is the final piece of the personal branding puzzle. Once you’re ‘tiling your roof’, you’re at a stage where your personal brand is established, and you’re now starting to shout about the fantastic work you’re doing and getting yourself known in the industry – Success!

This could be authoritative, engaging or concise. Whatever suits your overall personal brand. However, like a roof, it needs regular upkeep and cleaning. Don’t get complacent; personal branding is all about consistency.

Companies must promote personal brands
When it comes to personal branding, the benefits for employees are clear. But should companies be incentivised to encourage this? After all, it could lead to employees being poached or going elsewhere.

The answer is yes, absolutely. A failure to invest in people will probably lead to them leaving anyway. Studies have continued to show the benefits personal branding can bring to organisations. This isn’t just because the more people promote themselves, the better a company does. There is evidence to support the fact people at companies investing in personal branding are 27 percent more likely to feel optimistic about the company’s future.

It doesn’t take much to get started, just a plan and perhaps 15 minutes each week. Like the big businesses that have invested heavily in their brands, this commitment will yield huge personal reward.