9 Ways to Carve Out Your Fireproof Brand
1. BE VISIBLE
Career reinvention means a willingness to remake or reshape yourself into the person you need to be to compete in the marketplace. While this doesn’t mean discarding your identity as a whole, it does mean ensuring that you’re continuously building a reputation and visibility that can withstand change, uncertainty or career transition. Think of Madonna, George Clooney or Betty White. These stars have mastered the art of showcasing what makes them special in ways that are distinctive (recognizable), predictable (consistent), appropriate (for the occasion) and meaningful (in terms of what they contribute). You don’t have to be on the big screen to be known in your industry.
2. KNOW WHAT YOUR ASSETS ARE
Perception isn’t just about first impressions; it’s about your skill sets and the value you bring to the leadership in your company and industry. In particular, avoid an attitude of entitlement. For example, working overtime does not entitle you to perks, privilege or prestige. Ask yourself instead whether your skills are essential to the present struggles your business is facing as well as to the future challenges for growing market share.
What unique asset makes you invaluable? How are you leveraging it? Make sure that you’re being measured on a yardstick that your boss or leadership believes is of value. How do they measure success, and how will you know? What are the metrics they use? It’s up to you to push for feedback on what these metrics are.
3. SELL YOUR POTENTIAL, NOT YOUR PAST
Don’t abandon your brand, but learn to adjust to the current environment by selling your future potential, not your past accomplishments. Don’t rest on your laurels. If you expect success, you must keep your performance at a high level, not simply think that following your job description is your ticket to job security. Aim to be seen as the person who’s excited about exploring new possibilities.
4. BE SEEN AS A NATURAL FIT
Refrain from comparing the old with the new so that you can fit in with the current. If your leadership has changed, take the time to investigate what their vision and values are. Have a new boss? Learn how they like to communicate and measure success. Then champion your boss’s vision to make him or her look good.
5. IMPACT YOUR CUSTOMERS
Whenever possible, become a master at streamlining processes and improving customer experience. Remember, any initiatives that build brand loyalty and trust with customers will always showcase your value.
6. ADDRESS CONFLICT IMMEDIATELY
I have a client who really dislikes someone on her team. This person steals her ideas and causes her grief but is also politically savvy and seems like she’s going places. I helped my client realize that she needs to deal with this person because one day, she could be working for her.
Not resolving conflict could possibly come back to bite you. Avoid jumping to conclusions and instead seek first to understand how you can work better with the individual you’re having trouble with.
7. DON’T BURN YOUR BRIDGES
We all have times in our careers when we may not see eye to eye with our internal stakeholders, similar to the example above. Building a reputation as being high maintenance (meaning that you’re temperamental, emotional or a prima donna) will not provide you with opportunities. Be tough on performance, not on people.
Even if you move on into a totally different role, it’s a good idea to leave with a handshake. Remember, there are always lessons to learn from working with challenging personalities.
8. BECOME A POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON OTHERS
Being influential does not always mean being an authority. Allowing others to shine happens when you demonstrate that you have confidence in their abilities. By emphasizing their strengths, you’re helping others step out of their comfort and believe in themselves.
Treat everyone like a customer. You may be great with your external customers — eager to please, excited to deliver results — but if you forget that success is a team effort, you’re going to run into trouble. Find an opportunity to share the spotlight with your colleagues. This demonstrates personal power and partnership.
My client John was an amazing salesperson, dedicated to his customers beyond the call of duty. However, he ignored building internal relationships with colleagues and wasn’t seen as a team player, but rather as a bull in a china shop. His success was short lived because he neglected to realize that he needed assistance from internal people to sustain the success he desired. Nurturing others is a true testimonial that you’re focused on the organization’s well-being in the future.
9. WATCH YOUR P’S AND Q’S
Manage every interaction in person, email and voice mail as if your brand and career depend on it — because they do.
Make sure you speak with tact and offer solutions, rather than just complaints. Venting to a trusted colleague should be minimized, as there are no guarantees that such conversations will be kept confidential. Seek external support if possible to minimize leaks.
Decisions made by leadership may not always please you, but your public criticism will demonstrate that you’re not on the same page with your organization. You leave yourself vulnerable when you advertise your discontent.
- Develop a code of behavior that you can easily follow.
- Bring more value than you take.
- Be a selfless mentor to others, and find one for yourself.
- Show faith in others so they become confident.
- Create win-win relationships so that you both benefit.
- Embrace your ability to nurture others, regardless of title.
- Rather than judging, seek understanding.
- Replace “but” with “and” to conduct a courageous conversation.
- Fireproofing your brand is about innovation and being proactive rather than reactive. It’s really about making sure you don’t stick your foot in your mouth, thereby tarnishing your brand. It’s not terribly sexy, but it is terribly important.
Wishing you a joyful holiday season,
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Looking for ideas for holiday gifts? I invite you to purchase my latest book, The Future of You! Creating Your Enduring Brand! It discusses a proven step-by-step process for managing your reputationbecoming your own PR guru and fireproofing your career. Visit http://www.usheroff.com/store/