The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “What’s the best way to manage your personal brand?” is written by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.
Whether you realize it or not, every individual has a personal brand, from the intern to the C-suite. Just as corporations work to build and protect their brands, your personal brand and the qualities that define it are critical assets in your career and to achieving success. But people don’t often think of themselves as brands. Your unique background, work (and life) experience, personality, and world view are not only important to who you are, but to what you can bring to a job. It’s how you use your brand—and protect it—that counts.
However, in the cluttered information environment we live in today, controlling one’s brand is important. With so much information readily available on the Internet, one’s online presence can be misleading, fragmented, and sometimes taken out of context. Just look at the current full-fledged fight against fake news. Mark Zuckerberg finally acknowledged that Facebook (FB) could do more to stop the spread of fake news on its platform. Examples like this illustrate how important it is for each of us to control our own story.
Storytelling is a critical part of managing your personal brand. The first thing to do is to define how you want to be perceived. It’s not just about your skills, resume, or network. Your personal brand is a much deeper, broader picture of who you are. Are you a process-oriented, analytical type? Or are you a tech geek connected to the explosion of data and new technologies? The most important thing is to be authentic—a true representation of yourself, how you think and act, and what you can uniquely bring to the table.
See also: 3 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand
There are a couple of strategic points to consider that will influence the success, or lack thereof, of activities surrounding your personal brand:
Make your values count
When considering what content should be linked to your name, the best place to start is identifying the topics and issues that are most meaningful to you. Don’t try to be a resource or provide insights on everything. Stick to the areas you truly care about. If you are discussing your leadership style—organizational structures, processes, creativity, mentoring, or development—don’t try to be an expert on all aspects. And when you speak up, offer suggestions or provide insights based on your experiences. It will enable an understanding of who you are and your value set.
Shine where you lead
In many spheres of your life, there are areas where you are genuinely the best, and others where you are not the strongest. For example, those who lead in customer experience might not be the most credible in discussing how to unify and optimize technology platforms—and vice versa. Take a leading voice in your unique areas of strength.
Showcase why others count on you
A personal brand is about you, but also about how others see you. Your brand is strengthened when it reflects what people count on you for, and the interactions you have with others. Within your company, who you are stems from how you connect with your teams. Make your brand an extension of your relationships and communities.
Be differentiated and consistent
It is sometimes helpful to emulate those we admire. And while you should recognize that it is good to learn from them, you shouldn’t try to be them. Don’t mirror what others on your team are known for. Stand out with what is uniquely yours. And stick to it. Don’t follow trends or shift with the flavor of the moment.
If you follow a few of these rules, you will be remembered and recognized increasingly for who you are. It will help keep you top of mind for the right opportunities. Your voice will be heard more loudly and clearly on topics and issues where you can best contribute. It will bring lasting respect and admiration to those you interact with. You will stand out with a clear and impactful personal brand.