This month I have been out and about giving talks about the value and brand of the information professional. To me branding is not an abstract concept, but is an intrinsic part of who you are as a person.
I had just seen this cheesy quote on LinkedIn when asked to talk, but it encapsulates some of what I try to remember on any given day. Essentially the buck stops with me and people remember their experience of you (however fleeting).
‘Your smile is your logo, personality is your business card. How you leave others after an experience with you becomes your trademark’ by author Jay Danzie.
I am not the tallest, thinnest, cleverest, fastest most charismatic person, but I know that I am known to ‘get the job done’. I don’t turn up at meetings having not completed tasks for example. I work out what needs to be developed/delivered to make the business of an organisation successful. I get asked to do things because of me, not because of any service on offer on a website or calling card.
I think we can all do a better job. We are all learning, in most cases, on the job. I make mistakes all the time, and it is sore, but I try to learn from these.
One of things people wanted me to talk about was ‘the job description – does it free or trap you?’ I believe not to be limited or defined by a job description. Do what needs to be done, not what is or not written on a job specification.
Never underestimate the power of showing that you are excited (or at least very interested) by what you do – that really shows through. Keep growing as a person and a professional – study, reflect, and share your experiences in the workplace and beyond. Employers should be employing you to develop a need, not a series of commands. Join the dotsin your organisation and share the outcomes within and outwith your organisation.
Talking about jobs – don’t leave before you leave. I have done this when I tired of a job. Tired of the commute and tired of the field I was working in. It was painful for me; and for my employer too. I already had one foot out the door and that does not make for a good time for either party. So when time to move on, then move on only when you are actually physically moving on.
When my talk ended we picked up a particular point I had mentioned for development in a toolkit – show what you do is a professional activity and can be counted or measured in some way. The idea of measuring was deemed to be very important. Most services are under financial pressure and some information professionals felt that they are not seen as being important to the business.
The only way to be seen as important is to show (with evidence) how you support the successful outcomes of your business. An important point was made by someone when they owned up to the fact that they didn’t know what made their business successful. Only you will know what success looks like for your organisation. If you don’t, then find out.
Personal branding can often about be talked about by looking or dressing a certain way or having a logo. That is very superficial. To me, it is about knowing (or discovering what needs to be done) absolutely what your role is in an organisation and delivering on that. Make sure that you keep promises, however small, and never turn up unprepared or having not completed something. Measure and share what you (your department) do, especially how it supports the organisation.
By the way I am always learning on the job. I have made more mistakes than I care to remember. But I do love what I do, and I try to share my experiences (usually in small local settings like my recent talks), with the hope that I can do better next time.
Tom Gilson. Test Bio