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When people think of you, is it good or bad?

Do they think successful?  Smart?  Accomplished?  Insightful?  Abusive jerk?

These first thoughts, like first impressions, are part and parcel of a career brand.

It is amazing how many leaders are what they are without thinking about their personal brand.  They can come up with a hundred reasons for their good or bad habits, how they treat people, or for their failures.  They become incredibly dismissive when you try to connect these behaviors and their brand. 

Bad mistake.

There are three important elements of effective career management:

  1. Awareness
  2. Outreach
  3. Performance

At the outset, you must be aware, or become aware, of how your colleagues, your customers, your friends and even your family perceive who you are and why you are they way you are.  Without self-awareness you have no ability to change and grow.

Outreach involves everything from your personal interactions to your social media presence.  Unless you are at the apex of your career, and your retirement is funded beyond your wildest expectations, you must focus on advancing your brand — as a cutting edge thought leader, superb operations leader or values-oriented staff support person.  When you start assuming everyone sees you through the same lens as you see yourself, you are in trouble.  You must take the initiative in defining who you are, how people see you and how they evaluate your value. 

In the end, it is all about performance.  Whether you work in a staff support function, or on the hard edge of nailing aggressive budget targets, you have to achieve results, deliver value.

That will define your brand as much as how you treat people.

© 2012 John Gregory Self