As I sat 11 days waiting for my Covid-19 test results— (they came back Negative! 🙌🏾), all sorts of things were going through my mind. One of the questions that I ask coaching clients during our first personal branding session is, “what do you want to be known for?”. People think your personal brand is something that you decide once and can never change, but that’s the opposite of what being human is. I take a look at my life and where I’m headed periodically and evaluate if I’m on the path I want to be on. I know from the results of my Clifton Strengths Assessment that I lead by Influencing. I’m the most fulfilled when the work I do has an impact on someone’s life; this is why I ask myself what do I want to be known for.
Even if you don’t lead by influencing, knowing what you want to be known for is crucial to identifying and owning your personal brand. Anyone who comes in contact with your brand should easily be able to answer the question, “what is this person an expert at.”
How To Figure it Out
Figuring out what you want to be known for can be difficult for some people. A few of the questions you can ask yourself when thinking about this are:
- What are you good at?
- What do you really enjoy doing?
- What part of your job do you enjoy even on days when you feel like crap?
That last question is usually the one that gets me in the right mindset to evaluate. Full transparency, there have been times in my life when the answer to these questions has been, watching TV (hello depression!). That’s ok, sometimes you have no clue, and you just coast through life for a bit and work a filler job that helps you pay bills. If that’s the case, give yourself some grace and talk to someone who can help you navigate that season.
Knowing what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing is an excellent place to start when figuring out what you want to be known for. Think of your brand in terms of what value do you want to bring. Are you a problem solver? What types of problems do you enjoy solving? Are you more of an organizer? What kinds of things do you like to organize? Knowing the benefit someone else gets from working with you is essentially your main brand message. A few examples from some of my recent clients are:
I am a software engineer that enjoys building applications for the healthcare industry. I love building applications using React and Typescript. Although I’m a full-stack developer, I don’t ever get excited about working with the backend, so I prefer to focus on front-end work.
I love helping people build software. I really enjoy organizing tasks and keeping track of progress. The best part of my job is Sprint Planning Day. Even if I’ve had a terrible couple of days, when I know that Sprint Planning is coming up, I’m energized.
In the first example, my client is a front-end software engineer. She wants to be known for building beautiful software for healthcare providers. That’s what we leaned on for her personal brand. My second client is a Software Project Manager. He wants to be known for leading teams to deliver software on time and on budget. He loves planning, and we leaned on that heavily for his brand.
Contrary to what most people have been taught, your personal brand can (and if you ask me should) evolve. If I look back at my career, these have been my branding messages over the years:
- Tech support technician excited to help you fix your laptop.
- Tech support trainer & supervisor eager to build the best technical support team around.
- Software engineer committed to helping companies get the most out of their financial data.
- 🎥 Software Project Manager with a passion for web-based software that gets things done!
- Engineering Manager relentlessly and unapologetically building diverse Software Engineering Teams.
- 🎥 Talent Acquisition Consultant specialized in employee retention and building diverse teams.
- Personal Branding Coach & Job Search Strategist helping underrepresented individuals land tech jobs they love.
On paper, it might seem like I’m all over the place. But the truth is, every single part of my story ties in together and helps define my brand. It’s what makes me excel at what I do and genuinely enjoy my work. It all ties in with What I want to be known for- someone who helps others. That’s it, simple, as long as I’m helping others, I’m on brand. What specific thing I’m helping with might change, and that’s the beauty of a personal brand, it can evolve with you as you grow. My brand is all about helping others be happy at work.
What Comes Next?
After figuring out what you want to be known for, you now need to ask yourself, who needs to know this? Marketing your brand never stops. Whether you’re looking for a job and need to put yourself out there for recruiters and hiring managers or you’re at a company you love and want to go for that promotion, or you’re ready to leave your 9–5 and start freelancing full-time or want to start your business. Your personal brand is what will open doors for you and help you Level Up.
Let’s Keep In Touch
I’ll be sharing the exact steps I’ve used to market my personal brand on Twitter, you can follow me there.