If you want to grow your career you must build your personal brand. The sooner you realize that skill alone isn’t what it takes to be successful the better.
History is filled with talented, smart people who remained stuck at the bottom-rung of life’s hierarchy. They failed to rise any further because they didn’t build their personal brand.
Whether you know it or not, every group has a formal or informal hierarchy. Sometimes people rise to the top organically and other times they fight to get to the top. Often, people at the top have some sort of power assigned to them. However, this is not always the case.
Many capable people fail to rise in hierarchy because they don’t know how to position themselves within a group. For most people, this requires a deliberate effort to understand their own competencies and develop a personal narrative based on some of those competencies. They must then communicate that narrative to others.
Years ago, a mentor explained it to me simply: “How do you want others to perceive you? Now be that guy.”
Of course, you have to be able to deliver on your promises so who you WANT to be must connect with your ACTUAL core competencies. But without communicating that narrative to others, you’re allowing others to shape your personal brand for you. Sometimes it works in your favour. Often it does not.
Build your personal brand to grow your career
I suggest you spend some time thinking about what you want, who you are and what you’re good at. You might find that the answers to these questions are long and varied. Great – that means you’re an interesting person with a lot to work with. The bad news is that others have a limited capacity for information so you must carefully craft your story. Often, less is more.
To do this, figure out how you can match your characteristics and skills to the needs of your audience (e.g. coworkers, friends, family, whoever). Consider what they want and what they need to know. What problems do you solve?
For example, you might be a great illustrator in your spare time, but that is not something your boss cares about. So carve a relevant narrative that simplifies the story you tell others about yourself and the reasons they should care. Then repeatedly tell that story by communicating and acting accordingly. Ensure it’s memorable and repeatable.
Keep on message and you will build a personal brand. Eventually, even people you haven’t met will start to know your brand because others have repeated your story.
Your personal brand combined with your actual skills will be the combined force that helps elevates your career.