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