As your own Chief Marketing Officer, you have a say in how your brand translates to your career advancement. It’s possible to develop a brand that positions you for promotion, but there are ways that you can (mis)manage your brand that can have a negative impact as well. Here are five considerations when thinking about how your brand influences your career.
1. Do you know what to ask for?
When you present yourself at work, are you putting your best foot forward? It’s important to understand your personal brand because this will guide your pathways to success. You need to know your strengths. How are you perceived by others? What are the strongest reasons you deserve advancement? Do you have a plan for your career that you can present as part of your pitch for promotion? When making your pitch, you are marketing yourself, so customize your ask to your strengths and be prepared to share your personal value proposition.
2. Do you have the right advocates?
An important part of your personal brand is your network, i.e. your connections; who you know matters. When seeking a promotion within a company, you need to know someone who is in a senior, authority position who is either a part of the promotion process or has influence over it. This person is more than a mentor or an ally. This person will go to bat for you as your champion. Your allies and mentors may not be the right advocate, but they are a useful resource for finding that critical person who is going to push your advancement forward. Once you’ve identified this person, you need to move the relationship from an acquaintance, to ally to advocate.
3. Is your frustration getting in the way?
It’s understandable. You work hard, you believe in yourself, and you see the opportunities you want passing you by. Frustration can be a motivator to get to work on your ambitions, or it can be a serious liability. If you are frustrated, this might manifest in a bad attitude. Whether you are openly expressing yourself or simply showing up in a negative way, your frustration does not encourage your company to take a chance on you. If you are frustrated, it may manifest in more subtle ways. You may be able to keep a good outward attitude, but you are less open to feedback or constructive criticism. Don’t let frustration shut off your opportunities.
4. Do you have the Evidence to support your case?
In an ideal world, your abilities will be recognized and rewarded because you are putting in the time and the effort. But we don’t live in that world, and it’s your job to make sure the decision makers see you for the asset that you are. This means you can’t just work hard; you have to work smart. Create opportunities to showcase your strengths. Take on a project that is compatible with the position you want to have. Use volunteer work or other activities like speaking at conferences to show your abilities. Make sure your efforts are tied to something the company cares about. Finally, make your case to your boss. Create a 2-3 year snapshot to show your boss your career map and prove that you’re accomplished in a way that matches the position you want to have. Your snapshot should include a vision for yourself and for your role in benefitting the company.
5. Are you speaking up in the right places?
How you present yourself at work matters. In meetings, you want to make sure you are participating in a productive role. A small thing like a job title can make a difference. Does your current title have some inherent limitations that make it difficult for others to see you in a more advanced role? Ask about changing your title. Are you taking opportunities to convey value? For example, use internal communications media like newsletters or webinars to present on issues that showcase your abilities. Do offer to debrief after conferences and share what you learned with your team and even more broadly.
Brand management is a concerted effort to present yourself the way you want to be perceived. It takes effort and thought to make sure you are placing yourself on the right track and in front of the right people. But if you are finding that the promotion isn’t coming, be certain to do a hard review of yourself. Are you using your emotional intelligence to make sure that you aren’t rubbing your managers the wrong way? Is your frustration manifesting negatively? Are you making the effort to let your managers know how they can help you? Promotions come about for a lot of different reasons. Make sure that you are aligning your efforts with your goal to achieve your desired outcome.