When prospective clients come to me for career help, the first thing I ask them is to tell me their story – who are they (professionally), and what differentiates them from the other people pursuing the same opportunities. More often than not, they are not sure what to say.
While great professional brands take a bit of time and effort to build, you can create an effective professional brand story in a few days. This post covers a basic exercise to get started.
Step 1: Identify 3-5 key words or phrases that you think differentiate you from your peers. Here are some examples:
- Strategic thinker, innovative, creative, inspiring
- Team builder, collaborator, partner
- Dedicated, hard worker, quality-focused, risk-focused
- Good under pressure, handles challenging situations
Step 2: Identify 2-3 stories that demonstrate how you exemplify those key words or phrases. These need to be *specific* examples of what you have done in the past that demonstrate your point. Think of it as if you were on an interview. For example, if you chose “strong team builder” as your phrase, your stories could include:
- How you created a highly effective onboarding program for new employees
- How you brought in an innovative training program to upskill your team
- How you used your network to recruit star talent
If you are having trouble coming up with words that differentiate you, go through the best work stories you have (what you would put on an accomplishments document) and come up with words that would encapsulate why they are great stories about you.
At this point you should have 3-5 key words or phrases, each with 2-3 supporting stories stories. If you are stuck coming up with ideas, ask trusted people to help you brainstorm.
Step 3: Create your brand statement
Start with the basic form: I am a [ X ] who [does Y ] by [unique attributes]
- I am an IT executive who builds innovative, high-performing teams by focusing on strategy, culture, and hiring
- I am a project manager who delivers complex, high-pressure projects by bringing my exceptional organization skills, people skills, and dedication to get the job done
- I am a data scientist who improves business performance by understanding the business and customer landscapes, and providing practical solutions to complex analytics questions
Step 4: Test it out
Show it to at least 5 trusted people and get their feedback. Iterate until 3 of the 5 people don’t have any more suggestions.
Once you have an effective professional brand story, you can continue to improve it by finding better words and phrases as you continue to accomplish more in your career.