Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jo Miller on How to Build Your Brand

Today I was lucky enough to be one of 850 attendees at GHC11 to attend Jo Miller's session on 'Building Your Brand as a Technical Expert or Leader'.  She started the session by congratulating us all for taking the time from our day-to-day work to work and reflect on this topic, and I'm very glad I did!

The session was designed to help users identify their ideal career niche and create a personal brand statement, in addition to providing tips on making your brand visible and practice with speed networking.  The advice was very practical and insightful.  For example, attendees were advised to consider brands that are scalable and that evolve as your career does, from entry level through mid-level to the senior level.  Jo asked us to consider where we want to be in two years and five years, and articulate our career plan to our leaders, since they often have access to networks and opportunities that we can't see.  When we tell them our plans, we empower them to make decisions about the people working for them earlier.

Jo also discussed ways to promote yourself.  I especially liked how she encouraged us to promote others. She told that it's just as important to promote others as it is to promote yourself, and I couldn't agree more. I've given friends and colleagues recommendations on LinkedIn, public kudos at work when colleagues were helpful or proactive, and I always take care when writing feedback for evaluations.  If you do these things thoughtfully it reflects on you just as much as the person you are writing about.

Part of the session included a panel of women at different stages of their careers, including Judy Priest, a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco, Ami Khatri, a Web Applications Architect at Massachussets General Hospital, Nehal Mehta, Director of QA at NetApp, and Kiara L. Williams, an Event Program Manager at Microsoft.  Each of the women offered great career advice, such as:

  •  'Build a brand that will stick with you through various jobs and sectors.  Make it consistent and timeless'. ~Judy Priest
  • "Do things you are passionate about.  Don't be afraid to try something new." ~Ami Khatri
  • "If your brand is negative, turn it around.  Document and publish what you do" ~Nehal Mehta
  • "Reflect on what you have accomplished and what you will accomplish." ~Kiara L. Williams

Once you've created your brand, you need to make it visible.  Luckily, Jo provides five steps to doing so:

  1. Work less: work strategically, don't waste time on tasks that don't add the value that your organization really needs.
  2. Communicate your brand: you may need different brands for different audiences.  Try to create a 30s 'commercial'; what's your job title, what are you known for, what do people come to you for?
  3. Have career planning conversations with your leaders: State your intention and ask for their help.
  4. Work hard on the right projects: Women who succeed get demonstrated results.  Choose projects that align with your brand and showcase it, and thatimprove the bottom line.
  5. Promote your accomplishments: You can start small by presenting in meetings, blogging, sending status updates.  Ask to be nominated for awards (advice my mom always gave me!) or ask a colleague to 'toot your horn'.

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