On this ask Katrina, the question is:

Katrina, how do I know what my professional brand is? And better yet, how do I change it?”

Let’s start with the first question, how do you figure out what your professional brand is?

Short answer: you ask others.

If you are uncertain of what your brand is in the workplace, then the only way to find out is to ask those you work with and interact with to tell you about your brand.

You can find out through conversations, touch bases, performance reviews, raises, promotions, etc. The point here though is that all of these methods are ways to receive feedback.

So if you feel like you can’t fully define your brand, it relates back to feedback and it is typically due to one of the following 3 reasons:

  1. You’re getting feedback, and you don’t like it (arguing with reality)
  2. You’re getting feedback, and you don’t believe it (denying reality)
  3. You’re not getting feedback at all (avoiding reality)

As you can see, people’s perception of your brand is reality. You can try to argue, deny, or avoid it but in doing one or all of these, you’re not going to have a clear understanding of your brand nor will you be able to influence it.

Professional Brand: Perception is Reality

The easiest way to get feedback from a wide variety of individuals and have it compiled in an actionable summary is to perform a 360 Review.

To perform this review correctly, you must ask for feedback from all of your direct reports, your supervisor, peers, and several other colleagues.

Now, if you want to get true feedback, you can’t just ask the people who will tell you what you want to hear.

We both know that we have a number of peers and colleagues we can choose from. Because we want to soften a potential blow, we tend to pick the peers that are closest to us because we don’t want the sting of getting negative feedback.

This is a sure method for damaging your 360 Review and not getting the feedback you need in order to understand and then influence your brand.

You’ve got to get the feedback, whether it stinks or not if you genuinely want to understand how you’re perceived in the professional environment.

You must get feedback from everyone.

And then if all the feedback comes back, and they have a positive view of you, and they think everything’s great, then there you go, if there’s an overall negative view, there you go.

Whatever that feedback is, that is your reality. That is the perception that individuals have of you. And the only way to understand your brand is to ask about it.

Once you understand what your brand is, the only way to influence it is, either maintain it if it’s good or influence it and improve it if it’s negative.

I know it sounds overly simple but it is.

To summarize: you ask, you face reality, you compile, you seek to understand, you keep doing the good things, you improve on the negative things that you can improve upon, and you move forward.

This is how you identify your professional brand and then change it based on needed changes.

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