3 Ways to Enhance Your Personal Brand at Work (CCs All Millennials!)

In a hilarious post last week, Brian Morrissey from Digiday, wrote about what advertising agency execs feel about their younger charges in an article entitled:  WTF Millennials: Managing Agencies’ Newest Generation. It was called out and quoted by many in the industry press and caused much debate on Twitter.

Hilarious because of the quotes Brian managed to solicit from various sources, and because he gave millennials a chance to answer back where many of them seemed to agree with what had been written about them the day before.

Whatever generation you were born in, the impression you give people in the workplace has never been more important. A business doesn’t owe you a living whatever age you are, and rather like companies trying to survive head and shoulders above others in an increasingly crowded digital world, the same goes for your personal brand in the office.

My Personal Branding Services largely help people with their online persona and how to behave positively and effectively through social media, but having read these articles, I couldn’t help but want to jot down my thoughts on how to leaving an enduring impression in the physical workplace.

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Millennium Bridge in London (Flickr)

Ask Questions

You don’t know everything, no matter how old you are or how experienced you are, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or to clarify points that are raised in meetings or over email. Knowledge is power and if you don’t have it, ask the person who does because you’ll learn something and they will feel good about themselves for having been of use to you. As I wrote last week, being honest in ignorance comes across far better than a BS approach.

Asking smart questions of senior people in the business helps raise your profile as well. If you spot the CEO in an elevator or your bosses boss in the queue for coffee, introduce yourself and have something smart to ask about a recent presentation you saw them give or email they sent out. Be genuinely interested in their answer but don’t make it look forced or awkward. Confidence is attractive, as is an incisive comment, so actively listening and participating in that senior person’s thought pattern will mean you’ll be remembered because you made a positive impression.

I’m not suggesting in any way you “suck up”. You’ll be spotted a mile off.

Just be cool and confident but willing to be open and learn.

Take a Professional Course

You don’t know everything (see a pattern here?), so take a course in something niche that could help your career and the business.

Ask the business to pay for it as an investment in you and them.

Back in 2001 I asked my manager at Looksmart if I could do a “Diploma in New Media Management” at Birkbeck College in London. They kindly agreed to pay for it, but not before the request had passed the CEO’s desk who wondered who this guy was that was willing to give up the next 16 Saturdays to learn more skills to help his career and his company.

Now a cynic might say I was just doing it for myself, but actually what I learned I was able to apply to my role and I stayed there until 2003 (when we were all made redundant!).

The plus points were I felt invested in, the company felt good about itself for doing me a good deed, and it benefited from my new skills. Having new or niche skills makes you a valuable commodity in a business. They make you a go-to person and you’ll be referenced more.

Now this enhanced personal brand might mean you getgiven more work to do, or are called on more for your counsel. But that’s the point right? You’re not wanting to be that wall flower anymore. You just have to manage it wisely and turn it to your advantage.

(I was actually asked back to lecture on that same course in 2008 and 2009, so it paid even more dividends in the end!)

Get a Hobby

In my book Pioneers of Digital, Jess Greenwood from R/GA (and formerly Contagious Magazine) says stay curious and widen your interests, as that helps inform your work and layers new ideas on top of it:

“It is a gift to be living in a time where your own personal interests are every bit as valuable to professional success as the way that you operate in the day-to-day of your working environment. It’s an amazing time to be joining the working world. If you are coming into media or advertising and creative professions like that – there’s enormous emphasis on being a well-rounded, interested creative person.”

Of course, having outside interests to help your career and chat about at the coffee machine isn’t just limited to media or advertising.

“Getting a life” will be a focus for many of us at the start of any year, especially in this world of increasing work, so being interested, and interesting, is going to do nothing but help enhance your personal brand and boost your career in a positive way.

Good luck!

Mel

P.S. If you liked this blog post, read more on personal branding, social media and digital PR and please don’t hesitate to share it!

5 Comments

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  • Jim Sterne

    Thanks Mel – I was not aware of those Brian Morrissey and found them amusing, depressing and made me wax nostalgic.

    I’m in my late 50′s so I’m one of the last of the Boomers. I totally and completely relate to both sides. I think it has nothing to do with which generation you are but with your age.

    Wen I was a twenty-something, I was constantly outraged by how little my senior managers understood or cared or (especially) listened. I was the same way I felt in my early teens about my parents. Why, oh why did they not listen? Why did they not give me the respect they showed to each other? Why wouldn’t they give me a fat pay increase just for showing up? Sowing p is hard work and I’d much rather be sleeping in after a hard it of partying. Don’t they get it??

    Malcolm Gladwell suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to become an expert. That’s about four years of doing the same thing over and over and over and over. It’s mind numbing! Ad if you’re in your twenties that’s a huge portion of your life! You’d have to LOVE something beyond reason to put that sort of effort into it.

    But if you do, people will listen very carefully when you speak up pin a meeting, ask for more pay or suggest that they should send you to a conference.

    So no, this isn’t the fault of helicopter parenting or video games or the plethora of extracurricular activities for kids. I has been ever thus:

    “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
    authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
    of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
    households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
    contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
    at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

    Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato

  • Mel Carson

    Thanks Jim. First time Plato has been quote on any of my blogs! Read the final line of the Stephen Fry chapter in “Pioneers of Digital”, you’ll see you’re right about loving what you do.

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