Is Professorial Branding for You? Yes, It Is

I asked the personal-branding expert Talaya Waller what she recommends and finds of value for personal (i.e. professional) branding. Here is what she said: "As a newly published researcher, I’ve encouraged my colleagues to make sure they create an account and complete a profile on Google Scholar. You can connect with other researchers and see where your work has been cited. You can network with other scholars as well. In addition, every professor should think about having a professional landing page online outside of their university. They can use their site to publish their unpublished and published work, solicit other thought leaders in their field, and have a method of contact for researchers to ask them about their work."

How to Rebrand When Transitioning Industries

Personal reinvention is necessary for many reasons. Maybe you’re looking to take on a new challenge or find more meaningful work. Maybe you’re hoping to shake limiting perceptions of you that hinder your career growth. Rebranding can be a major shift, such as a retail manager moving into a marketing analyst position, or it can be a subtle transition from a manager role to a leadership position within the same industry. Whatever changes you’re hoping to manifest, taking control of your personal brand is a necessary part of the journey and can mean the difference between a lackluster position and a rewarding career. One of the trickiest steps in this path is persuading others to embrace your rebranding efforts. 

There are techniques you can use to facilitate a smooth industry transition. Recognizing your strengths, defining your destination, and marrying the one to the other should be your first objective. You have skills. Once you have determined your destination, you will be able to figure out which skills apply and how. Remove the industry-specific labels and reframe your skill-set with the lens of whatever position you want to be in. Research keywords in your target industry and reword your skills to match. Use this new language in your resume, LinkedIn profile, and interviews.

Recognize the distinct “you-ness” that will be inherently part of your personal brand regardless of industry and find a way to embrace it. Leverage your points of difference, whether that be previous experience that distinctively colors your new brand or distinguishing personality traits that you can use to your advantage. Shrewdly leverage anything that makes you stand out whether or not these attributes are strictly relevant to your work. 

Perhaps the most crucial part of successfully rebranding yourself when you transition industries involves crafting your narrative. Your personal story of why you chose to transition to a different career should communicate to prospective employers what this move means to you and where exactly you want to go. Though it is perfectly natural for human beings to be curious and want to develop new interests, employers are liable to view this as erratic behavior unless you provide another explanation. In order to protect your personal brand, it is therefore necessary to formulate a coherent narrative to explain precisely how your past experience fits into your present goal. 

You may have changed directions in a big way, but you cannot expect the people in your vague but expansive social and professional network to know this unless you deliberately and strategically reintroduce yourself. These are the same people who will, hopefully, be your buyers, leads, and promoters in the future.  Update your social media content: Facebook, LinkedIn, website, etc. Make sure your information is consistent and up-to-date. 

Do not underestimate the importance of having a strong LinkedIn profile. Regardless of industry, the most critical foundational element of your career marketing effort is your LinkedIn profile. To make your profile more compelling, integrate multimedia elements that showcase your expertise. An easy way to use LinkedIn is to share articles relevant to your target market on your homepage. You can also participate in the platform’s special interest groups.

Waller & Company is a one-stop-shop consultancy that implements online presence strategy, public relations, and crisis communications to help leaders and businesses manage their brand. Very few companies offer a full-complement of personal branding services necessary to guide leaders through all stages of their professional life-cycle. Our goal is to help clients use personal branding to increase visibility, leverage expertise, and attract new opportunities. Due to the very diverse needs of our clientele, our services range from individual consultations to training workshops for corporations and nonprofit organizations. 

How Can Personal Branding Be Used Against Stereotype Threat?

The term stereotype threat refers to situations in which individuals are, or feel themselves to be, at risk of confirming negative stereotypes about their social group. It’s a well-documented phenomenon, particularly in academic and corporate environments. Studies show that these situations result in increased heart rate and decreased concentrations. Ironically, the fear of confirming the negative stereotype leads individuals to perform badly, thereby fulfilling the stereotype due to fear of fulfilling the stereotype.

There are subtle organizational mechanisms that create obstacles for women and people of color in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Personal and institutional bias favors people in the dominant group, giving them the benefit of the doubt, often without realizing it. At the same time, those who are not members of the dominant group have to repeatedly prove themselves. One of the most insidious factors pushing women and people of color out of professional leadership positions is the near constant anxiety caused by stereotype threat. 

Don’t let yourself be defined by other’s perceptions of you; there is a way to take control of your image. You can use your personal brand to help you overcome stereotype threat. Start by identifying the stereotypes that others are likely to impose on you upon first meeting. For Asian Americans, that might be “meek” or “passive.” For women, that might be “pushover” or “flaky.” Now, figure out how you can turn those unflattering, and untrue, assumptions about you into an image that is true and works for you. For example, women are often dismissed professionally because their compassion is seen as a weakness when, in fact, having good people skills, such as compassion, is an invaluable strength. Know your value and lean in

Rewire your thinking from a fixed identity mindset to a growth mindset. People often get stuck thinking that they must simply play the hand they’re dealt. Rather than thinking about your identity and your situation as the result of circumstance and genetics, understand that your potential is infinite. If you want to be successful, you have to believe that you can be. What does this success you look like? Picture her/him and work towards that image.

You must fine tune the resonance between your brand and your reputation. This means identifying the gap, if there is one, and deliberately working to change perceptions about you. If any of the negative assumptions about you are true, tackle them first and actively work to change them. If you are a woman who is submissive at work, work on being more vocal, taking risks, and asserting yourself.

Disprove the stereotypes by showing up and being a whole person and not a label. The best way to disprove stereotypes is to replace people’s ideas of you with the real thing, with your personal brand. Speak your mind, offer unique solutions, and boldly stake out a position that works for you. You are actively redefining yourself. Make sure that you do not repeat the ideas of others. Bring something new to the discussion and, slowly but surely, perceptions of you will adjust accordingly.  

How Personal Branding Can Help You Negotiate Your Salary or Next Promotion

In today’s job market, standing out in a crowd is particularly vital to your career. Establishing and enhancing your personal brand will help you develop a reputation for professionalism, integrity, and expertise that will open doors to getting hired, promoted, and negotiating your salary. If you work for a larger corporation and think that your personal brand is in some way redundant, think again. Due to technology and the growing distrust of corporations, personal brands have become easier to develop, nimbler, and more trusted than their corporate counterparts. Using your personal brand to further company related goals is an excellent way to find new clients, establish your reputation, and earn a promotion. Here are some ways that your personal brand can help you earn that promotion or negotiate your salary. 

Use your personal brand to find new clients and solidify relationships with existing clients. New clients will be drawn to the company by your personal brand which is more, well, personal than the corporate brand; its accessibility will bring in new clients who will have a better impression of the company overall as a result. If client relationships play any role at all in your position, then having a strong personal brand will improve them. And the loyalty of clients you already have a personal relationship with through your brand will increase as you advance to positions of greater responsibility within the company. A large network of loyal contacts radically increases your capacity to generate more business and reach even more clients. 

Having a large, loyal network of contacts gives you, and the company, access to an even larger collective of human resources. The relationships you cultivate through your personal brand will not be limited to clients or customers. If your company needs to find new manufacturing or an independent contractor, you can reach out to your web of contacts; this network is a valuable resource, especially if your new role involves managing external relationships.

Another way that your personal brand can be leveraged to negotiate a salary or earn a promotion is by increasing your company’s brand impact. If you personally have a network of several thousand followers, then every post from your company that you share through your personal network will expand their reach by several thousand. That expanded reach comes with an objective monetary value that you can leverage when negotiating your salary. 

And don’t forget, your personal brand can be used to establish a competitive baseline. The potential loss of the resources, contacts, and expertise associated with your personal brand is a very real factor in your value to the company. Though you should not use this point directly when in negotiation with employers, as it could be perceived as a threat. Let the strength of your brand speak for itself. Employers know that if you decide to leave your current company and migrate to one of the company’s competitors, your personal brand will go with you.  

How Your Image and Style Can Impact Success

Your personal brand and your personal style are indelibly connected in the minds of your clients and colleagues. If you are an entrepreneur or executive at the helm of a business in the corporate or nonprofit sector, personal branding can afford you some measure of portability by distinguishing yourself from the larger company image. Bear in mind the fact that every brand, including yours, has a package. Your packaging consists of clothing, accessories, grooming, and hairstyle choices and it is communicating to those around you, whether you want it to or not. It should go without saying, but your image and style can have a resounding impact on your professional success. As you cultivate your brand, make sure that your personal style is coherent, professional, and purposeful. 

Adopt your own personal dress code and follow it every day, whether or not it’s a “workday.” Neglecting your personal appearance communicates self-doubt. Put some thought into your appearance because others are forming opinions based on it, even people you run into at the grocery store or the gym, and those impressions stick. Find clothing, accessories, and a hairstyle that compliments your unique strengths and ethos. Create a unique “look” that really works for you.

There is a verifiable psychological correlation between clothing and confidence. In 2014, the car manufacturer Kia conducted a survey to ascertain what makes people feel confident. They found that, for women, high heels, quality perfume, and a slinky black dress made the top ten list. For men, it was a new suit, fresh shave, and aftershave with a nice smell. Finding the right clothing and accessories doesn’t just communicate competence and confidence to the outside world; it communicates this perception to you. Dressing sharp raises self-esteem, boosts confidence, and can propel you in the workplace. There’s a reason people say if you want a promotion, dress like the boss.      

If you are a little unsure of how to proceed, here are some guidelines to bear in mind. Your accessories should be coordinated with the rest of your outfit. To capture the attention of others in a good way, limit your accessories to one bold item per outfit. For women, this might be a brightly colored scarf. For men, perhaps a red tie. You don’t want your appearance to be confusing or overwhelming. Clothing should, of course, be clean, ironed, and fitted. Go through your closet and remove old, tattered, and outdated items. Replace those items slowly and thoughtfully with items that express who you are today and how you want to be perceived.

Take particular care with personal grooming, choosing a hairstyle that matches your look. Remember, it can always change as you evolve professionally and personally. Don’t neglect proper skin care and manicured nails. It’s amazing what people can take in subconsciously about our appearance in the flash of a second. You want to communicate a certain level of pride in your appearance.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you still feel as though you need help managing your professional image and personal style contact an expert. Waller & Company can assist you in aligning your image with your professional aspirations. After we assess your personal style, we select key fashions that make you look more competitive, confident, and successful.