What’s in Your Professional DNA?
All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. –Tom Peters, Fast Company
Lynn was recently recruited to become Director, Business Planning & Analysis for a company well known for having a strong Finance organization. George, a colleague of Lynn’s, has invited Lynn to dinner on him to congratulate Lynn and find out how she got the position.
George: Congratulations! You have achieved quite a milestone in your career.
Lynn: Thank you, George.
George: There are so many competitors, corporate finance professionals like you and me, seeking to land a significant position with such a reputable company. I bet the company went through a lot of resumes. And, they offered you the position. How did you do it?
Lynn: I attended a conference 3 months ago. The title of the conference was “Today’s Corporate Finance Pro: Business Partner and Thought Leader”.
George: I remember discussing the conference with you. I decided not to attend. I did read the keynote address that Jim Rogers delivered. Jim is one of the most respected CFOs in industry. Jim made some very insightful comments. I wish I had attended the conference.
Lynn: Yes, it was a great conference. There was a reception after Jim Roger’s address. It was a great opportunity to network.
George: I bet aspiring corporate finance professionals swarmed around Jim like bees to honey.
Lynn: Yes, they did.
George: Did you connect with Jim?
Lynn: I did.
George: How did you connect with him? How did an encounter at a conference lead to a job offer?
Lynn: I stood near Jim, but I did not participate in the initial onslaught to talk to Jim.
George: So, you hid in the bushes!
Lynn: Not exactly. I positioned myself to hear what was being said to help me make the most of my “seconds to minute” discussion with Jim.
George: What did you hear?
Lynn: Jim asked each person “What do you do?”
George: That must have generated a variety of answers.
Lynn: I heard answers such as:
“I perform financial analysis”.
“I analyze financial results, prepare reports, and make presentations”.
“I coordinate the annual budgeting process and plan the presentation of budget proposals”.
George: What did you say when it was “your turn a bat”?
Lynn: I started by saying “I identify opportunities to improve company performance and increase EVA”.
Jim focused on me like a laser.
He asked me “How do you do that?”
I said “I translate data, such as profits, margins, market shares, and industry developments into trends and relationships”.
Jim gave the nod to keep going.
I continued by saying that I present information in focused and easy-to-follow summaries that provide implications and identify opportunities.
Jim then asked me how I facilitated discussions.
I told him that I link the key points of my summaries to advantages and disadvantages for each opportunity and to our business strategy.
Jim gave his business card to me. He told me to call his office the next day to schedule a continuation of our discussion.
He asked me for my business card, which I quickly gave to him. He wrote something on the back of my card.
I called Jim’s office the next day. Jim’s assistant and I scheduled a face-to-face discussion. His assistant told me that Jim would cover my travel expenses.
Jim and I continued our discussion. He told me that he would send an offer letter to me.
The offer was a 50% increase in my compensation with a sign-on bonus.
I accepted the offer.
George: How did you plan what you were going to say to Jim if you had the opportunity to converse with him at the conference?
Lynn: I used the Lynn Personal Brand Statement to plan what I would say.
George: What does your personal brand statement include?
Lynn: It includes 3 components, what I stand for, the value I offer, and what makes me unique. I asked myself 3 questions upon which I based my brand statement.
What do I want people to say or think when they see me or hear my name?
How would I answer the question “What do you do?”
Why would anyone want to hire or promote me instead of someone else?
George: Is there more to developing a personal brand statement? Do you have a recipe or steps I could follow?
Lynn: I applied the Personal Branding Process that companies use.
I defined my strengths and values based on assessments I took.
I identified what makes me unique by soliciting input from my peers, colleagues, and former bosses, my performance appraisals, and my finest moments.
I established a personal image model to serve as a guide for developing my statement.
I read articles to explore the most desirable traits for today’s corporate finance professionals. One trait that stuck out for me was Thought Leader.
George: Is that why you asked me those questions about why I liked working with you?
George: What about those finest moments?
Lynn: My finest moments were times when I could not wait to tell you and my other friends about what I had accomplished at work, turned up the volume on my IPod and felt like I was in a special zone of emotion, was so tied up in the moment from an accomplishment that I almost ran a stop sign, or had a smile on my face that was so pronounced that it seemed like I knew something that others did not know.
George: This is good stuff! What about your personal image model?
Lynn: I profiled highly respected CFOs to determine what made these individuals stand out, what made them unique versus other CFOs.
George: Thank you for sharing your recipe for developing a personal brand statement.
Lynn: Let me share my personal brand statement with you. (Lynn pulls out here smartphone and shares her statement with George.)
I am a thought leader who structures and packages ideas, perspectives, and possibilities from several sources into business concepts and opportunities. I relate very well with business leaders and partners and have the drive to accomplish daunting tasks. This enables business units to move beyond concepts and discussions to develop plans to improve business performance. The executives in my organization invite me to join them in making business decisions.
George, I decided that I was going to be Bounty instead of just another paper towel.
George: Guess what I am going to do?
Lynn: Develop the George Personal Brand Statement.
George: You got it!
Lynn knew her personal product. She realized that she was in The Business of Lynn and needed to market her product to advance her career.
Did this week’s article generate Aha Moments?
What does your personal product stand for?
What value can your product provide to your current and potential employers?
What makes you unique? Are you a “paper towel or Bounty”?
How would you answer the question “Why would anyone want to promote or hire me?”
How well are you managing The Business of You, You, Inc.?
Share your comments, experiences, and suggestions. This helps me provide information that may help you address your career opportunities and challenges.
Fields of Success offers complimentary coaching sessions to help professionals convert their needs, challenges, and issues into career success stories. Visit the Contact page on the Fields of Success website to schedule a session.
Next week’s article will go deeper into creating awareness of what your brand can do, the Marketing component of The Business of Me Career Management Process.
Linwood Bailey is a career coach and the author of The Business of Me: Your Job … Your Career … Your Value. The Business of Me provides a career management process and information designed for today’s business professional. Since 2008, Linwood has enabled business professionals to manage their careers. Linwood, the been there coach, provides innovative career management solutions derived from his 34 years of experience managing functions and people in multiple industries, regions, and corporate cultures.
Your career is your most important economic asset.
I wish you an enjoyable Labor Day.
Founder & Owner, Fields of Success, LLC
Helping professionals convert their needs, challenges, and issues into career success stories.