Archive for January, 2012

Why Personal Brand Matters

Posted on January 31, 2012, by , under Featured Interview.

John Hillen, CEO of Sotera

Amid a high unemployment rate and future budget cuts in the federal government, it has perhaps never been more important to have a strong personal brand. In the government contracting sector especially, your reputation is your key asset. Whether you’re looking for a career change or moving up the ranks, you should always work to position yourself for success. And that’s where your personal brand comes into play.

Personal brand? you may ask.

Think of it like this: You’re planning to make a major purchase, one where your credit score matters. Do you wait until the day before your planned purchase to check your score? Of course not. The same goes with your personal brand. Manage it the same way as your credit score: continuously review, improve and recalibrate.

Although everyone has a brand, most don’t know how to manage it. Personal branding is neither marketing or self-promotional; it’s about presenting yourself in the best possible light, whether it’s among your peers, before a potential employer, or the undersecretary at a federal agency. It’s not about the work you have done in the past, but about the work you’re capable of.

Building your brand and raising your reputation capital is simple: Be genuine, stand out, and make others realize it. Figure out what sets you apart. Look at market leaders such as Apple, Coca-Cola and Google — what differentiates them from the competition? Brand promise must be authentic, magnetic and distinctive.

The mistake many do is that they begin working on their personal brand too late; just like it takes time to improve your credit core, fixing a flawed or mismatched brand requires energy and effort. Many also wrongly believe that personal brands are limited to certain professionals. No matter which company you support in government contracting, a strong brand will help you. Just look at John Hillen, CEO and president of Sotera Defense Solutions, who has perhaps the best personal brand of anyone I know. At age 46, Hillen is a war hero, academic, policy wonk, speaker, author and now successful business owner whose brand has not only enabled him to become a well-recognized name, but has also helped him raise money for charities.

Your personal brand, in Hillen’s words, will speak more powerfully than your resume. How you then decide to use your brand is entirely up to you. The sky’s the limit, but get your name out there: And while you’re out there, remember the golden rule of personal branding: It’s not whom you know, but who wants to know you that really counts.

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Spotlight On Eileen Cassidy Rivera: The Five Keys To GovCon Corporate Branding

Posted on January 13, 2012, by , under Featured Interview.

Eileen Cassidy Rivera

Last month Eileen Cassidy Rivera, former Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations at Vangent, wrote an article in Washington Technology that encompassed my two niches…personal branding and government contracting.

Eileen talked about how valuable company branding is in the world of government contracting…weak-branded companies can get lost in the competition.

Listing the top five ways to guarantee a strong company presence, Eileen believes that simple, straightforward language is one way to win contracts. “A much more compelling way to communicate what a company does differently is to promote the outcomes or results it accomplishes for its customers – in plain English,” said Eileen.

A great idea that Vangent developed was the “brand playbook.” The “brand playbook” was spurred out of a lack of standards for how employees describe their company to potential buyers. I agree with Eileen, making sure the employee understands your company’s offerings matters just as much as how that employee describes what their company represents. Without an understanding of the core mission of the company, your employee is just another person vying for a contract.

Eileen’s third point was that people make business, not companies. Executives should not shy away from bringing a personal or emotional connection to their offerings…how else will potential buyers remember your company?

“The first question asked by any new employee is about the company’s culture, not about the company’s strategy,” said Eileen. She is right, companies spend large amounts of time developing strategy and reading over the “employee handbook” when really, it is the company culture that maintains and retains employees.

Eileen’s fifth and final point is by far the most important message to take away. Government contracting will be going through major transitions within the next couple years…when developing strategies to make a leaner company, cutting out platforms and tools that help promote your company’s brand is just about the worst thing an executive can do.

*Vangent was acquired by General Dynamics September of 2011.

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