Comparatively, my work world is relatively small. Everyone here on the 15th floor of Thrivent’s Minneapolis corporate office works at wall-less desks, in pods of four, in a sea of pods placed neatly across an open layout. It can be easy to create relationships with people close in proximity to you, especially because they can hear every phone call you make, are privy to every conversation you have at your desk, and have no trouble spying on your computer screen as they walk past. Plus, our open floor plan is meant to mimic another concept we seem to prize here in Marketing Development: the regular and even distribution of employee talent across multiple initiatives and programs. So it would not be out of line to think that, after a cumulative year of working here, most everyone would recognize me by name.
But you would be wrong.
A couple of days ago my Development Coach broached the topic of personal branding during our one-on-one because, as she tells it, a lot of the senior management only know me by my rather distinctive color of red hair – but not for the things I’ve accomplished during my fellowship. And even that’s not a good enough distinguisher for some, because believe it or not there’s another Shannon with red hair who works 15 feet away from me.
I’m an introvert by nature. My introverted brethren will understand that this doesn’t mean I’m a tortured and shy soul who would rather jump out of a plane than interact with people on a daily basis. I like people a lot. I thrive on maintaining relationships. But to me, the instinct to create a relationship in the first place doesn’t always guide my every action. A very dear friend of mine incorrectly thought I was a little snobby at first blush (what she took for aristocratic indifference from accross the room in our class together was actually an all-consuming focus on staying awake), so it appears I’m doomed to repeat history if I don’t start purposefully seeking out relationships with some of my more illustrious coworkers.
Like any good Millennial I’ve decided to ask the internet for help. Dan Schawbel has graciously come to my aid with his article “Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Brand”. He outlines the process of creating an entirely outward-facing personality in two easy steps, so I figure this is probably my golden ticket to critical acclaim. Please, follow along with me as I discover who I am by addressing Mr. Schawbel’s questions with your own personal answers.
HOW TO FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE SO YOUR POPULAR BOSS AND COOL COWORKERS WILL WANT TO TALK TO YOU
Step one: Discover your brand.
According to Dan, “Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan.”
I’m approaching these questions from a place of honesty and complete personal transparency.
- What you want to do for the rest of your life: eat jalapeño cream cheese wontons.
- Setting goals: engage in a brief and steamy encounter with Leonardo DiCaprio at least once before I die.
- Mission: force everyone I know and love to speak exclusively in Spanglish.
- Vision: currently it’s pretty poor because I’m nearsighted and have astigmatism in one eye.
- Personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve): I play the Sims obsessively and I serve the god of jalapeño cream cheese wontons.
- Development plan: I’ve already gone through the whole puberty thing so I’m pretty confident I’m stuck with barely B cups for the rest of my life.
Step two: Create your brand.
As Dan instructs, “Now that you know what you want to do and have claimed a niche, at least in your mind, it’s time to get it on paper and online.” Here’s what Dan suggests you have in your personal branding toolkit:
- Business cards. Is this really still a thing? I will condescend to ordering these only if someone has created musical business cards (like the Hallmark cards that play music when you open them) and I can hand out my personal brand stamp to the tune of Independent Women Part 1 by Destiny’s Child.
- Résumé/cover letter/references document. I’d rather not waste all the paper handing these out to everyone and their mom, so I’m planning to screen-print my résumé onto the back of a lime green t-shirt and wear it to work every day.
- Portfolio. This assumes that I have any artistic or creative talent. I once tried to copy a picture of Taylor Swift from a magazine cover during a particularly boring class, and my horrified friend informed me that the result made the star look like a geriatric loner addicted to crack and plastic surgery. Those are strong words.
- Blog/website. If you’re reading this post now, you’ll know that I’ve succeeded in blogging to enhance my personal brand! One million points to Gryffindor!
- LinkedIn profile. I don’t even want to admit how long it took me to figure out that what I thought was an L in the name of this site is actually an I, and that it’s pronounced “Linked-IN” and not “Linked-LN”…which is not a word. Baby steps.
- Facebook profile. I’m still too lazy to convert to Timeline, even though apparently 115 of my friends have. Whoops.
- Twitter profile. All I can tell of Twitter is that it’s largely abused by arrogant celebrities to broadcast their tired opinions and by masochistic Americans who take pleasure in torturing the defenseless intricacies of the English language. I just don’t get it.
- Video resume. Dan thinks you should create a short, one-minute video to explain why you’re the best for a job and what you’ll bring to the table. My video script would read like this:
SHANNON: I’ve got a college degree and a clean bill of health. You’re not going to get anything better. Hire me.
HIRING MANAGER: Sold.
- Wardrobe. Pffft. I’m all over this one. Banana Republic better watch out for the day I get a pay raise.
- Email address. This one I should probably pay attention to, since I’ve shared an email address with some other woman for years and every once in a while get her emails about pregnancy and being a vet. Uncomfortable.
Here’s what I’m saying: I recognize the need to make myself relevant in the eyes of my superiors, because they’ll undoubtedly help me get farther in life and because I respect them. But following Dan Schawbel’s suggestions (while they are very thoughtful and elegantly expressed) to build my personal brand seems like way too much work for a devoted slub like myself. I’m just banking on the fact that you’ll like me as I am.