Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Matthew Meuleners, Leadership Trainer and Consultant at FOCUS Training, and SEWI-ATD VP of Community Relations.
Career development planning is a hard concept for many employees to wrap their heads around - and the execution of that plan can be even more
daunting. As Talent leaders, it often falls to us to coach employees (or their leaders) through the process of reflection and consequently creating the vision required to position someone for next steps. One simple idea I go back to again and again, is the Personal Brand Story.
What is a Personal Brand?
It is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. ... Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group, or organization.
In most instances, when it’s time to hire or fill a leadership position, we don’t tend to choose the mysterious stranger. Our risk-averse brains tell us to lean towards the familiar, a person to whom we can relate. Not only do we want to understand what we are getting, but we also want to know their story and what to expect – a personal brand offers a shortcut for these choices.
Image, reputation, brand…whatever you choose to call it, the impression that others in your professional sphere have of you can be a key driver of how they respond to you. But a powerful brand is more than a list of features. It tells a story.
As a Talent Professional, here are a few tips you can share with employees and their leaders in your organization:
Crafting your brand story
- Reflect for value: Think back about each of your significant professional experiences. Where did you start your professional journey? Because of the roles that you filled along your journey, what can you now do? What do you know? What have you seen?
- Differentiate yourself: What sets you apart from the rest of those who are pursuing the same goals and career? It doesn’t have to be unique to the world, just unique to the competitive space.
- Transition with intention: Be prepared to discuss the space between experiences. What led you from one job to the next? Why did you make this career move at this time?
- Project forward momentum: Your story doesn’t end today. Describe where you are headed next from a professional growth perspective. What are you hoping to learn or achieve?
These best practices can help build a brand story that is both engaging and authentic.
Also consider how to use tools like LinkedIn to document your story in real time. Investing a little time in reflecting and updating every few months can save you from the arduous task of trying to remember years of work at a time - typically under a deadline because you are only thinking about this in response to an opportunity that just popped up.
So, next time you find yourself coaching someone through their next career step, ask them to tell you a story!
About the Author
Matt Meuleners has more than 18 years of experience as a Talent Development professional. He is a leadership trainer who is known for his ability to drill into an organization’s challenges. As Executive Partner with FOCUS Training, Matt focuses on corporate leadership and new product development. His specialties are: Training program design and delivery, consulting on leadership development and training, development of corporate mentoring programs, training audits, presentation skills coaching.
Matt holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, School of Business Administration.