Personal Branding for MBAs — and the Rest of Us.

Last week I ran a great guest post on networking by Scott Sholtes.  Today I have one on personal branding by Amy Griffin.  Amy is the creator of a site that helps readers learn how and where to earn an MBA in international business: http://www.mastersininternationalbusiness.org.  She has some very interesting things to say about personal branding for MBAs.  Check it out…

Personal Branding for MBA Graduates

After you have graduated with your MBA, one of the most important things you should be concerned about is building your personal brand. Your brand is going to represent everything you stand for: your reputation, your style, beliefs, and everything else that is part of who you are as a person and as an employee. There is a lot of advice out there for people looking to build their personal brand, but not all of this advice is best for MBA graduates. With an MBA, more is expected of you, and you are held to a higher standard, so while your personal brand is already better because of your master’s degree, it will also require more hard work and dedication if you want to make sure your personal brand lives up to your level of education.

Write Down Your Personal Description

How do you want to be perceived? Take an hour or two and write down all of your personal goals, who you think you are, and who you’d like to be. This is how you can start to define your brand. What talents or skills make you different from others in your field? What accomplishments are you most proud of? Treat this experience like a job interview and let the interviewer know every important detail about your character.

Think about why you would be a good “product” for someone, and sell yourself in a way that will benefit the customer. You wouldn’t buy something you didn’t feel you needed, and no one is going to hire someone who they feel they don’t need either. This may be something you have to change depending on who you are trying to impress because you are going to benefit different people and companies in different ways. For now, you can generalize this part of your personal description, but don’t forget to think about your target audience every time you use your personal description to make a good impression.

Now that you have it all written down, try to condense your personal description down to one paragraph that you could recite to anyone in an elevator. You never know where or when you will meet someone who could help you out in your career, and you never know how much time they will give you, so you need to make sure you are prepared. First impressions are everything, so if these couple of sentences won’t capture the attention of anyone in a few seconds, keep improving until they will.

Build Your Reputation

Even with an MBA, you are going to have a lot of competition out there looking to fill positions, so you need to gain the respect and trust of the companies where you want to work. To do this, you will need to successfully build a reputation for yourself in the business community, and it is never too late to start.

There are countless ways you could grow your reputation. For example, you could take on a project that will give you some positive press, grow your network of acquaintances by doing some freelance work, or get a paper published that shows your extensive knowledge on a particular subject. It’s all about exposing your name in a way that will positively affect your brand and networking with people who will help you excel. You want everyone in your network to sing your praises so that your name will continue to build your good reputation.

Your reputation will not only include all of the positive things people say about you, but it will also include the negative words and actions associated with you. This is why it is so important to connect with the right people and show them your positive contributions to the community and to your company. Your words and actions are always being watched, so remember to always show your character to build your brand.

How Your MBA Will Help

In the two extra years you were in your MBA program, you probably had the opportunity to learn a lot more about yourself when compared to those who didn’t go on to graduate school. You experienced new situations and were able to find out how you best lead others.

    • The courses you took to get your MBA gave you a chance to explore new areas of interest, which will now help you better define your goals.
    • Hopefully, you have received an extensive amount of feedback from your professors, classmates, and mentors, which could prove useful in discovering who you are and how others see you. If you have not already received this feedback, go back to these professors and peers and ask them for feedback. The results you get will definitely help you define your personal brand or give you an idea on how you can change to perform better.

That’s some great career advice from Amy Griffin on personal branding – even if you don’t have an MBA.  Remember, nature abhors a vacuum.  If you don’t brand yourself, others will.  It’s better to be in control of your personal brand by creating it yourself, than it is to let others create it for you.

Here’s a real life example.  I have a very successful friend – an MBA in fact.  He owns a high-profile and growing advertising agency.  We met when we were both working for a very large Fortune 500 company.  My friend is a fun guy, a big sports fan and very witty.  Somehow his fun personality got him tagged as “immature.”  This is ironic because he is one of the most mature and hard-working people I know.

No matter, his immature brand cost him several promotions at the company where we worked.  Whenever his name came up in promotion discussions, the dreaded “immature” tag came up too.  He finally had to leave that company and begin someplace anew where he could establish a more positive brand.  It worked out well for him, as he is entrepreneurial by nature and is much happier running his own company than he would be working in a very large corporation.

Let this story be a lesson to you.  If you don’t brand yourself, others will – and sometimes the brand with which you’re stuck may not be the brand you want.  Pay attention here.  This is important career advice.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  Successful people create positive personal impact.  Your personal brand is the key to creating positive personal impact.   Amy Griffin is right on when she says that your brand is your reputation.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 61 in Success Tweets, one of my career advice books.  “Create and nurture your unique personal brand.  Stand and be known for something.  Make sure that everything you do is on brand.”  The final piece of advice in that tweet – “make sure that everything you do is on brand” – is really important.  You have to consistently and constantly act in a manner that will result in people thinking of you in the manner you want them to.  It’s not enough to create your personal brand, you have to build it by your actions every day.

That’s Amy Griffin and my career advice on personal branding.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  What is your personal brand?  What do you do every day to reinforce it?  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.

Bud

PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site last September.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.

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