Monday, March 26, 2007

Thrive or Just Survive?

Also posted on Corporate Women.

"Be distinct or be extinct. To be in business today, the most important job is to the the head marketer of the brand called you." Tom Peters has been touting the importance of personal branding for years. So, how does this apply in your world of business? Marketing yourself is less about emphasizing the one or two things you do really well and more about the marketing campaign you launch and sustain to sell yourself on a day to day basis.

Does the idea of that turn you right off? Well if you answered yes to that question you would be like most women in the corporate world, and, many female entrepreneurs for that matter. Women often feel that being a high performer and delivering in their job is enough. And, frankly, it should be given all of the extracurricular responsiblities that we have to fit into a day. But the fact is that it just isn't enough to stand out and get noticed.

So, the idea of marketing yourself seems trite, vain, superficial or below you-- right? Well, whether you know it or not, some of the smartest female and male executives in the market today have a personal marketing plan and can clearly articulate what it is if you asked them. In fact, we did just that in February in conversation with six top Canadian executives in Toronto and Vancouver at our recent "Finding Your IT Factor" events. There is an art and science to marketing yourself in today's competitive business world and it all starts with self awareness.

As a starting point, ask yourself the following 6 questions:

1. Are you aware of the way you are perceived by others you work with?
2. Do you consider yourself to be well networked externally?
3. Do you have strong office alliances?
4. Do you have a coach or mentor who is helping to guide you in your career path?
5. Do you actively promote yourself at work?
6. Can you, on demand, clearly articulate your strenghts and how you add value?

If you answered "yes" to all of the above, you are probably doing a pretty good job. If you answered "no" to one or more of the above, you have some work to do. We recently ran a poll asking women what they thought was their IT factor or key success factor. The number one response was a "positive attitude" and the second was "great communication skills". As we move up the corporate ladder or build our businesses what we learned in business school becomes less important and what we might have learned in finishing school takes on a whole new meaning. This is because the way that we present, are perceived and can relate to people around us is paramount to our success.

If you are left with any doubt, you can take a page out of the book of any of today's popular celebrities or musicians who have put countless resources behind building their personal brands. Business people have lots to learn from other industries.

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