Constantly evaluate yourself. “Prepare your personal balance sheet; find out what is working and what isn’t,” says Merchant. Figure out what areas of expertise you require to add to your portfolio. “The idea is to build T-shaped expertise, broad expertise of an area and deep expertise of one specific niche,” says Gautam Ghosh, who blogs on HR, social media and personal branding. But there’s no short cut.
Invest time. Learn from every possible opportunity. Attend workshops, seminars and training programmes. There’s lots to learn out there.
Learn from people. Have a wide range of people on your contact list—coaches, mentors, industry leaders, trendsetters and opinion makers. Ask them the right questions. Get their perspective. Follow up.
Invest money. Take a professional course. Let it be something that will help you to grab that next important project, or make a career move that will open up a new opportunity.
Be more than just an employee. Don’t limit yourself to your job description. “Do different things or do things differently,” says Purvi Seth, CEO, Shilputsi Consultants, an HR firm. Go beyond what’s expected of you. Jump on to a project that others are iffy about, take calculated risks. Don’t just change jobs, move laterally within your organisation too. As an HR professional, you might want to dabble in sales to improve your communication skills. If you have always worked for an MNC, you could consider a start-up. Each successful project would mean one more ‘braggable’ that you can showcase to your next employer.
Be an intrapreneur. Think like an entrepreneur even within your organisation. Focus on innovation and creativity. If, say, as a sales manager, you feel that a social media campaign could work for You, convince your boss to let you take a shot at it. If it succeeds, own it.
Tell the world you know. With globally accessible online forums and social media, it is easy to trumpet achievements and share your point of view with the world. Be searchable and accessible and connect with others with similar interests. Be active in industry groups, discussion boards and chat forums on social networks, such as Linkedin. Share your knowledge and help others. And, of course, stay in touch with people who matter—peers, influencers, experts and potential recruiters. The key, says E. Balajie, CEO, Ma Foi Management Consultants, is “constant communication; your audience should hear from you regularly”. If you have established yourself as an expert, the offline world is bound to notice you if you regularly attend various meets and seminars. Try to be visible in traditional and electronic media too. Gaurav Mishra, who builds and nurtures online communities as CEO of 2020 Social, started to blog on Social Media marketing back in 2005. It led him to meet new people, get recognised, a Yahoo! fellowship, teaching assignments and, finally, to set up his own firm.
Build trust. Build relationships. You won’t be present when your bosses sit down in a closed room to decide whether you deserve a promotion or a double-digit increment. The impression you have left earlier has to do all the talking.
Be someone they can trust. Says Ghosh:: “Help people out. If you cannot, identify someone who can. Ensure that the person’s problem is solved.” Such people end up becoming brand ambassadors for You. Saundarya Rajesh, founder-president, AVTAR Career Creators, stresses on sincerity, genuineness and consistency. “We seek those marques that have consistently fulfilled their stated commitments and eventually become loyal to them,” she says.
I was quoted recently in the Outlook Money story Market Yourself Right on Personal Branding by Anagh Pal: