As a professional, you want to have a good reputation, but sometimes what people know about you does not completely describe what you have to offer. To be recognized for the right things, it is essential to build your professional brand. Brands are often associated with products, services, and companies. Branding allows companies to have a recognizable image, message, and purpose. You can use this same strategy to stand out and distinguish yourself to a potential employer, networking contact, or client.
What Is Professional Branding?
Professional branding is the process of creating a "mark" around your name or your career. This is achieved by having specific strengths and messages that people remember about you. It is how you express and communicate your skills, personality, and values—in person and online. To be truly memorable and impactful, your brand should represent your authentic self. It is the culmination of what makes you unique.
How To Build Your Professional Brand
Take a personal inventory, and develop your message.
Identify your strengths.
Think about the characteristics and strengths that you’ve built during your career. Are you a thought leader? Volunteer? Expert at evidence-based practice? If you are stuck, think about that “one thing” that everyone remembers about you. It is essential to know your strengths off the top of your head so that you can talk about them. If it has been a while since you thought about it, ask a coworker or colleague. It is important to think about what impressions you are putting out there.
Write down your values and priorities.
Make sure that you have a clear picture of your professional values and goals. They should serve as a compass that guides you in both action and message. By identifying the most important things to you, you will spend your time and energy on what matters. This will make it easier to communicate to a potential employer, networking contact, or client who you are and what you are about. Price Waterhouse Cooper’s “Personal Brand Workbook” offers exercises to help define your strengths and values.
Your brand can only go as far as you push it. Choose strategies that you can sustain. They can be small or large scale but, just find ways to share.
Share your message in person.
In The ASHA Leader Blog post, Ideas to Build Your Brand With Colleagues and Clients, SLPs, Erin Milewski, MS, CCC-SLP, offers ideas to help you communicate your brand as an SLP in person, but this applies to all aspects of your brand, including
- creating and delivering a brief presentation;
- educating clients, students, families, and friends; and
- presenting yourself in a consistent manner.
You may also want to consider submitting a paper for ASHA Connect or ASHA Convention or volunteering for a state or an ASHA board, committee, or council.
Share your message online.
Be sure to have an online presence that speaks to your professional brand. Whether you know it or not, most employers and many of your colleagues are looking you up before they meet you, so try to make an excellent first impression. LinkedIn is a good place to start because it has tips and tools to help you create your profile and message.
Don’t forget to nurture your online presence by participating and sharing. This can include writing or sharing articles at least once a week, liking other people’s content, and connecting with new people online. Sprout Social offers tips on how to start your online brand with The Ultimate Guide to Personal Branding . There are also assets from the ASHA Certified website that you can use to highlight your ASHA certification.
Have a signature, and be yourself.
You have so much to bring to a team, employer, and client—make sure that you stand out from the crowd. Your signature could be the way that you sign your name or the unique ideas you bring to the group—just have your own style. Use your uniqueness to attract the jobs, clientele, and network that you desire.
Once your brand is built, keep an eye on it. Make sure that what is being communicated is accurate and matches your strengths and values. Occasionally, Google yourself. You should be comfortable with what is online about you. If you are not comfortable, clean it up, and, if possible, ask others to remove their posts about you that make you uncomfortable. You never want to be surprised by what someone can find about you. During your reviews at work, see if any of the strengths you want to be known for are being mentioned, or ask your colleagues what they believe your strengths are. If what you hope for isn’t being mentioned, then you know what to work on.