Having clarity on your professional brand allows you to think beyond the confines of titles, roles, and industries, and instead focus on what makes you unique – your passion, personality, and skills that you can leverage to help you find meaningful work and achieve your career goals. I think of a person with strong communication skills and picture them in a finance role working with our customers even if they may not think of themselves as a teller or personal banker. And that is one of the benefits of having a brand – it helps you recognize opportunities where you may be a good fit, even in roles and industries you least expect. And when you are clear on your skills, you will find areas where those skills can be utilized in industries you haven’t yet imagined.
Being clear on what drives you is part of your brand. For me, my brand is helping people communicate what their talents are and how they put those talents to work for others and in the organizations that they serve. And as a leader in this space, I strive to bring out the best in myself and others. A few months ago, while I was visiting one of my frequent coffee places, I realized that many of the staff were no longer there. As I was chatting with one of the baristas about work and her desire for something new and I asked her if she had ever considered working in finance. Reluctantly she laughed and said, “I don’t like math.” I challenged her and said, “neither do a lot of people in finance, but finance is more than math. There are lots of positions in Financial services that are often about problem solving and customer service and you do that everyday in your job, don’t you?”
I have spent most of my career in education and much of that time as a professor. I also ran a consulting business and worked in many organizations consulting on both HR and Organizational Development topics. I coached people on careers and enjoy helping people take inventory of their skills, cultural competency and find ways to utilize them in organizations.
I am committed to inclusion and equity, and when the opportunity came about for my current role in talent acquisition, diversity, and inclusion, I saw the potential of what my experience and skills could bring to Bremer. My work falls into three buckets: 1) being intentional about diversity, inclusion, and equity in our talent lifecycle, 2) imagining and creating a sense of belonging for employees, and 3) being intentional about how Bremer shows up in the communities we impact. On of my goals is to expand and ensure Bremer is in communities that have historically been under-represented and to establish and strengthen new partnerships.
Leverage your professional brand for career growth
To use your brand to grow in your career or land the next career-changing project, find connections to your internal roles and how they contribute to the purpose and mission of the organization.
Approach self-promotion from the perspective of service. How are you using your talents and gifts to service others? What actions are you taking to elevate your team and the organization you are in? When you start from the position of service, you are showing value through actions rather than words. And people respect and remember your acts of service much better than hearing about how good you are.
Own your mistakes and learn from them. It is natural to make mistakes in our career but how we move from the mistakes is what defines our success. If the mistake impacts your professional brand image, acknowledge your mistake, learn from it and finally, rise above it. Hopefully you are part of an organization that values transparency, being human and letting people grow and learn. If not, move to one that does.
Get clear on your strengths. Find ways that your strengths can align with how the organization grows and help your employer see your potential by communicating your strengths to them.
As Brené Brown writes in her book, Dare to Lead, being “clear is kind”. And that applies to both you and the organization you want to grow within. If you are clear about your professional brand, others can support you in your career aspirations. Lastly, talent is universal, but opportunity is not. How can you use your place of influence to help others reach their talent goals
And by the way, that barista starts a new role as a teller next week.