How to build your brand and be seen
By Amanda Vinci.
The idea of being in the shadow of my leaders always appealed to me. I was never a fan of people who seemed to brag or self-promote at work. But, late in my EA career, my manager told me; you need to build your brand, if no one in the company knows about my work accomplishments, they won’t count for much!
Hearing this was a bit of a rude awakening for me. Up until that point, I’d always presumed that my work would speak for itself. I assumed that if I worked hard, the quality and impact would be obvious but I quickly discovered that peoples perception of my role wasn’t a true reflection of the impact I was having.
I was considered the coffee getter, the minute taker, the meeting scheduler, the gatekeeper but these descriptions didn’t articulate the impact I was having on the business.
I realised that to shift the perception, I needed to speak up and be seen. That is why, it’s so important as Executive Assistants to understand the value of building your brand. Its a way of establishing and consistently reinforcing who you are and what you stand for in your career and life.
Here are four ways you can get on the front foot, strengthening your personal brand within your organisation and beyond.
1. Say “Yes” to relevant opportunities to build your brand
One way to reshape your brand is to engage in projects, roles, or initiatives that strengthen your desired identity. This is something we work on with our flagship Certified course the High Performing EA. Participants take on a leadership initiative where they engage in work that sits outside of the ‘technical’ aspects of their role.
Consider which specific activities will help you build your Leader EA brand. Actively seek out and volunteer for high-profile roles and assignments where you can demonstrate your new brand in action.
Tip: Complete an audit of your projects on your own and then with your manager. Align and focus on those that best reinforce the personal brand you’re trying to build.
2. Speak at a conference to build your brand
I hated speaking when I was an Executive Assistant. (Some people might that find surprising given I now spend a good chunk of my time hosting workshops and delivering keynote talks at events.) As someone who once found public speaking very nerve-wracking, I can empathize with people who aren’t exactly excited about that idea.
However, being the featured speaker either in front of fellow colleagues or other professionals at a larger industry conference is a powerful way to build your professional brand and reinforce your credibility as a Leader EA.
Tip: Volunteer to share a project update at an upcoming company meeting or conference that reinforces an area of expertise you want to be known for.
3. Ask one question at every meeting you attend to build your brand
My philosophy had always been to only say something if I had something truly unique and valuable to add. We’ve all been to meetings where there’s someone who’s speaking just for the sake of getting some air-time. Not to mention the sweaty palms and red face that would occur at the thought of speaking!
However, I was once told by one of my managers that I needed to “speak up more” during our meetings. I could see his point. If you don’t say anything or ask anything in a meeting, others simply won’t notice you. You will be building a reputation for being the “quiet one” who is just in the room to take minutes.
Don’t talk for the sake of talking, but find a way that works for you to verbally engage in staff meetings, events, launch events or conferences.
Tip: At your next meeting, ask a relevant question related to your expertise that helps deepen the discussion or clarify a topic.
4. Network internally beyond your immediate team to build your brand
I pride myself on being a hard worker. If you ask any of my former colleagues, they wouldn’t describe me as the chattiest girl in the office. (Again, I know that might be hard to believe for some of you!) In fact, they would instead say that I tended to put my head down and work away for hours without interruption. On one hand, that work ethic allowed me to be efficient and productive. On the other, it came at the cost of not spending any time with my colleagues at the water cooler.
As my career progressed, knowing my tendency to quietly work away at my desk, I had to make more of an effort so I made a point to chit-chat more, never eat lunch alone, and proactively walk the halls to connect with people in the organisation.
Internal networking and relationship-building is critical to building your personal brand. This means internal networking above and beyond your immediate teammates.
Raising your visibility amongst colleagues makes you more promotable, people promote the people they know, trust, and who they see stretching beyond their immediate duties. Interacting with other teams and their leadership creates opportunities for you to become a more well-rounded contributor to your business.
Tip: Reconnect with one colleague outside your immediate function to learn more about their current priorities and discuss potential ways you could help one another based on your specific areas of expertise.
The important thing to remember is, if you don’t define your personal brand, others will. Everything you do either strengthens or dilutes the personal brand you’re trying to create. Building a strong personal brand is a choice and personal branding takes time, effort, and energy.
Investing your energy to engage in selected, specific projects, conferences, meetings and relationships will help you build a ‘Leader EA’ reputation. If you don’t, you leave yourself open to being labelled in a way that doesn’t align to the type of professional you want to be.
Invest the time necessary, every single day, to further strengthen your personal brand.
The professional opportunities and personal focus you can gain are absolutely worth it.
Growth Hub Members
Join us Wednesday April 27th at 12:30AEDT for a breakout session with Amanda to discuss this topic! RSVP below, see you there!