Prove your worth. In 2008, as director of communications at a community college, Sarah Evans met with her boss regularly to show what her online presence was yielding: postings that were reprinted, the number of student questions receiving prompt answers. “People were doubtful about getting into the social-media space, where they couldn’t control the message,” says Evans, who now runs Sevans Strategy, a Chicago new-media consulting firm.
Watch your language. Remember that people will see you as representing your employer—whether or not you are. Jason Kintzler, founder of PitchEngine, an online PR platform, began to realize he was self-censoring because “I didn’t want to turn people off of the company.” So he started a separate brand, New Media Cowboy, that is completely independent. There he can blog without, as he puts it, “sounding like a sales guy.”
Attention can be bad. Consultant Patty Azzarello has a simple warning: “Make sure you are not annoying.” Too often, self-branders use boorish tactics that overshadow their message. That applies in the office as well: Among Azzarello’s strict no-nos: don’t trap a superior on the way to the bathroom, and never go to a meeting just to be seen. “Doing something false, just for the sake of visibility, never works,” she says.
Get credit —when it’s due. If you don’t make sure you and your team are acknowledged for scoring those trade-show leads, someone else will claim them; frequently the last team to touch a product gets all the credit for developing it. “Promote the good work you do,” says Azzarello. “Don’t take credit for anyone else’s, but make sure you are not invisible.”
By Josh Hyatt, contributor
Case study No. 1: Don’t be overeager
Case study No. 2: The brand rehabber
Case study No. 3: Branding, not bragging
Case study No. 4: Edit thyself
Case study No. 5: Be sensitive to changing priorities
The promised brand: How to get there