Years ago when I worked at a certain law firm, it was frowned upon for employees to speak at conferences (or even attend them), post original content on LinkedIn, write articles and build our own professional brands. The only thing that was encouraged on LinkedIn was promoting the firm (sigh).

That firm’s mindset was shortsighted because employees can be great brand ambassadors for their employers (or not). Also, when a company supports their employees’ professional development, employees tend to stay longer and feel more loyal toward their employer.

My former employer failed to realize the power of personal branding and employee advocacy.

Think of your employees’ networks as powerful connectors to buyers of your services and referrals.

Each of us has a personal brand – our brand is everything we say and do internally and externally. It is every photo we post, every interaction we have and also what we wear.

You should be actively building your personal brand every day (and find an employer that encourages you to do so) because many opportunities can happen when you do – beyond building a stronger presence and network, or getting a new job. These include:

  • Speaking at conferences
  • Becoming an adjunct professor or lecturer
  • Taking a leadership role in a trade association
  • Media interviews and placements
  • Invites to write articles
  • Joining a board

Branding yourself helps you stay top of mind with the people who can refer work to you, hire you and recommend you for opportunities. It’s simply not enough to be great at what you do in a saturated field.

There are a lot of people who do what you do and you can be the best at what you do but it doesn’t matter if nobody knows it outside of your small circle.

Personal branding is the best investment you can make in yourself – when business is good but especially when it’s not.

It’s one of those things for which you simply just have to make the time.

Personal branding best practices

Your goal when creating a marketing and business development strategy is to be top of mind in a consistent, helpful way so that when clients have a need for services in your area, they think of YOU.

I know that it can seem daunting to make the time for marketing yourself.

It can also feel demotivating when you see your peers and colleagues get opportunities such as speaking engagements, press mentions and article placements that you know you could do better than them.

They didn’t get them based on pure luck or the fact that they’re the best at what they do.

It involves making a strategic effort to build your brand, networking and learning to be okay with hearing no sometimes.

Most opportunities that I’ve gotten didn’t just appear in my inbox – I had to MAKE them happen. And you can as well.

Commit to your own personal branding. It doesn’t take a lot of time.

You don’t have to do things you don’t like, so if public speaking, blogging, social media, recording videos or article writing isn’t for you, don’t do it.

Find what works for you.

When you do the things that you like to do, you’ll be more motivated to do them and you’ll do them better.

It’s an investment in you.

Whatever you do, don’t watch from the sidelines as your peers and competitors do it.

Join me, Paula Edgar, Wendy Bernero and Melanie Lippman at the LMA Northeast Region Conference on Friday at 9am to learn how. We will cover:

  • How to be more intentional about developing your personal brand and leadership style
  • How to market yourself during all stages of your career
  • The growing importance of social media
  • How to use speaking, writing, volunteer and board roles, and PR to build your brand
  • How to position yourself as a leader without seeming boastful
  • How to be more productive and find balance
  • Align the messages your clothes are sending with your values and goals
  • Demonstrate consistency, clarity, and confidence in your professional environment; Define your unique, personal brand to engage and convert your social media following and other leads into paying clients

What has been the most valuable personal branding action that you’ve taken?

PS – I didn’t stay long at that firm – and thankfully I didn’t stop branding myself because no job is forever and being visible at conferences and on social media enabled me to start my own business when I was ready.

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