The Importance of Personal Branding
Shawn Woessner ’99
Meet Shawn on IrishCompass
When one thinks of personal branding, it is critical to begin with the “personal” side of it. Specifically, only you are responsible for developing and managing your career; someone is not going to do it for you. As a headhunter, I find it remarkable how frequently executives comment that they are not good at building their own brand.
I have interviewed thousands of leaders and, more often than not, the ones that stand out are able to succinctly articulate their importance to their organization (sans ego). To create your brand, you first have to know your worth. A good starting point: review your resume. Are you simply describing your role(s) and corresponding responsibilities, or are you illustrating quantifiable value creation?
The linchpin to truly maximizing your brand and accelerating your career is effective networking. I highly recommend that you find time every week to network both within your company and externally (the ND family is one of the best!). I can assure you that this will have a strong return on investment. Too often, leaders have their heads down and miss out on great opportunities. The best networkers essentially never search for a job; they let their network do the hard work for them.
As it pertains to networking, it is important to not only keep tabs on former co-workers, managers, acquaintances, professors, etc. but also cultivate relationships when expanding into second- or third-degree networks. Simple requests of asking for advice or help from those successful people outside your network whom you aspire to be can go a long way. While sometimes those outreaches are turned down, often the conversations lead to valuable insights and/or open doors to things you perhaps weren’t initially thinking about. These “asks” are not easy for anyone, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you will become. And the more that you step outside your comfort zone, the more you and your brand will benefit.
Over the course of your career, your brand will continue to evolve. One thing will remain steadfast, however: you will always be in the driver’s seat with owning your career.
Shawn Woessner '99 is a partner with Odgers Berndtson, a global executive search firm.