Cathy Hayward is managing director of Magenta Associates, a PR and communications agency that specialises in the built environment sector.
In the world of work, cultivating your personal brand may prove just as valuable as building your business brand. But before you can start shouting about yourself to the world, you have to be sure about your own values and message. If these don’t align with your own brand, it simply won’t make sense to the wider market.
I firmly believe that regardless of the environment or situation you’re in, you should always be able to find common ground with the people you’re with when out networking or socialising. You are all there, presumably, for the same reason – so you should be able to find an angle to discuss. Building your personal brand should be of paramount importance to anyone in business. Whether you’re self-employed and looking to raise brand awareness, working in a large conglomerate and you’re attending a mandatory networking session, or anywhere in between the two – creating and representing your own brand with accurately reflected values is crucial to success.
Increase your networking
It’s often surprising to find out how many talented and senior people neglect this side of their career. There are plenty of networking opportunities to choose from: industry bodies, special interest groups, supplier seminars – the media together with conference and exhibition companies all hold regular events. Many of these take place in the evening or during trade sector shows, so with careful planning there needn’t be any conflict with other work demands.
You may feel nervous about attending these types of event, but keep in mind they offer you the opportunity to meet likeminded people who will have many of the same interests and concerns. Begin by attending events to simply meet and greet people and, once you’ve been to a few, step up the process by taking a more active role.
Another important way to boost your personal brand is to volunteer. Check out the groups where you feel you have most interest and can make the most positive impression and impact. For instance, if you have a lot of experience in devising an environmental strategy for your business, you could volunteer to join the organising committee of a sustainability forum; or if your company’s building has just had a major new fit-out, you could offer to show delegates around it as part of a conference event.
Social media is also an important facet of boosting your brand, so it’s wise to set up a Twitter and LinkedIn account (though do check your company policy first on what you can and cannot say). Once you have a Twitter account you can build a following by posting tweets of your views, retweeting an interesting fact and, if your name appears in an article or comment piece, ensuring this is tweeted too. As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn is probably the most powerful conduit; so use it to share interesting articles, videos and presentations with your network, as a way to position yourself as an expert who is keen and willing to share information.
Like many other sectors, the built environment offers plenty of opportunities to not only share your achievements – but be rewarded for them. There are a range of awards out there, from personal acknowledgements to team-based awards, recognising the achievements of a major project or the contribution made towards management, services or product innovations. So, put yourself or your team forward for these accolades. If you have done something great, it’s important to share it.
Creating, boosting and maintaining your own personal brand needn’t be a daunting task. Of course, for those new to it, it can seem so – but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself being the one to approach and lead conversation confidently, and handing out business cards left, right and centre. Be present on social media on as many sites as possible and be as personable and approachable as possible when out and about. And remember to smile; it automatically breaks down barriers and sends out approachable vibes.