No one is perfect.
In every job and at every point in your career, there are ways to improve your skills and your personal brand. Maintaining a positive reputation at work is not easy. It takes strategy, hard work, constant iteration, and consistency.
The first step to building the personal brand you want is to evaluate your personal brand right now. That means gathering information from yourself and others to determine how you are perceived.
One of my favorite books about branding is Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist* by Sally Hogshead. This book has helped companies large and small attract their ideal customers, but I love how the concepts in the book can build your personal reputation at work. You want to fascinate and impress those who can take you to the next level.
During my five years in sales, I saw three mistakes that tarnished personal brands: not being coachable, not maximizing face-time with managers, and inattention to detail in communication.
Not Being Coachable
It is natural to get defensive when you receive feedback from another person, especially if you feel like the feedback does not accurately reflect you. But remember that perception is reality, and if they do not see your ability, it does not exist.
Instead of immediately defending yourself, accept the feedback gracefully. Ask clarifying questions, ask for ways you can build the skill they want to see, and commit to incorporating it at your next touch point.
If you are already the bomb.com at the specific skill the other person mentions, just make it a point to get visible using that skill. The key here is to illustrate that you heard the coaching and rose to the occasion.
Not Maximizing Face-Time with Management
In most companies, you only have a handful of opportunities to wow your management team. Your goal with each touchpoint is to bring your A-game. Plan for those moments and incorporate them into your career development plan.
If those managers gave you feedback about skills in the past, be sure to show them that you have mastered those skills. Additionally, brainstorm the skills needed to get promoted and illustrate those as well.
Not sure what to expect when working with the managers? Learn from someone who has been there before. Get advice from peers and ask for the expectations from the managers beforehand.
An Inattention to Detail with Communication
Don’t you get frustrated when you send an email but get a delayed response or absolutely no response? Yeah, do not be that person. If someone asks you to send them a follow-up, do it! Bad memory? Make a note, send yourself an email, whatever — just follow up.
Additionally, only being reactive at work is a safe way to play it. One of my favorite tricks at work was to listen to any and all complaints by my managers and then follow up with possible solutions. Besides just doing your core job, how can you make your managers’ lives easier? Find a way to do that.
For example, in passing, one of my managers expressed a frustration about the merchandising of a new product. On our next work day, I showed him my solution in a store we visited. He had forgotten that he said anything about the concern, and to him, it seemed like I was proactive in finding a solution to a problem he personally felt.
Are you making any of these mistakes in your career? Evaluate how you act in front of managers, and take Sally Hogshead’s personality test to see how your personal brand is perceived right now!
*This article contains an affiliate link for the book, Fascinate! As a bookworm, I only recommend books I really enjoyed reading. I hope you enjoy them, too!