A brand is an intangible asset, a unique promise of what the company stands for when you see its name, logo, slogan or product, even before you interact with it.
This same logic applies to you. What are you about, and what do you offer to your colleagues, employer, or customers? Managing your brand is more important today than ever. Employers evaluate you based on the value you bring today plus the value you are expected to bring in the future; how do you communicate your current and future excellence? And now that the average person is expected to change jobs 10-15 times during his or her career, what does your brand say about you before you even walk through the door?
For these reasons, you need to manage your brand.
“What makes you unique is what makes you successful.” -- William Arruda, author
There are also a host of personal attributes that may define your brand: connected, caring, innovative, bold, successful, risk taker, competitive, human, concerned, empathetic, genuine, warm. These define who you are, and the approach you bring to relationships, your endeavors, and your approach to life.
There are a separate set of brand characteristics that also show your professional passion:
- Informed—You know what is going on. You are aware of macro trends that cross industries and will impact your company, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and digital finance.
- Continuous learning—you are adding new skills and capabilities. You constantly add to your repertoire of skills to stay relevant with valuable, because the workplace is rapidly changing. It also signals to employers that you are committed to professional growth. You can’t rest on your advanced degree that you earned a few years back.
- Connected—you build relationships. Networking is hard, and it is important. Building relationships inside and outside your company can introduce you to new ideas, skills, resources, and opportunities. You can call on people for help and insight, or simply ask what they are doing that is new and impactful.
- Inspired—you are confident that you will change with the rapid changes in the workplace.
“To be outstanding, you have to stand out.” -- William Arruda, author
To accomplish this, you have to understand your personal brand, then accentuate the elements that define you. Take time to write down your vision of yourself, consider feedback from colleagues and friends, and the aspiration of who you want to be. Then take concrete actions, such as:
- Register for classes and pursue certifications
- Attend conferences or local networking events
- Deliver presentations at webinars or confernces
- Write articles or blogs that demonstrate thought leadership or reflection on experiences
- Volunteer/mentor to demonstrate compassion and concern for others.
This year, I will attend my fifth AFP conference, and what I have always enjoyed is the opportunity to do many of these things in one place. For example, my roundtable group from last year’s conference began talking about how to hire and evaluate FP&A talent. We touched on skills, background, aptitude, attitude, and “entrance exams.” The group continued the conversation for weeks after the conference, emailing each other model-building evaluations, personality profile questions, and interview guides.
There it is: real talk among peers, delivered by practitioners and individuals with first-hand experience, relevant to our work every day.