Building your personal brand

July 2014 » Columns » Engineering Our Future
Chad Clinehens, P.E.
One of the most overlooked aspects of branding in A/E firms is the concept of the personal brand. Developing a clear and compelling personal brand that is consistent with your firm’s corporate brand can launch your career into the stratosphere.

As a representative of your company, you have a powerful platform to develop and enhance your company’s brand with the market. Much branding comes out of the personal relationships that you develop and foster inside client organizations. But more than that, your personal brand is developed by visibility you get with your clients and potential clients. Today, we have more resources than ever for you to get on that platform, expand your brand, and build your career. Here are some tips for building your personal brand:

Build a consistent image — Consider clothes, hygiene, table manners, speech, and other aspects that influence what your market may think about you. The first step is an honest self-assessment of areas in which you may need to improve. If you want a bigger job, then dress for the part; invest in a new wardrobe if necessary. The future returns will likely blow past anything you could spend on clothing. If you are concerned about your table manners, find some Internet tutorial videos or other web pages that offer free advice. There is plenty of free online information that can help you with any area you want to improve when it comes to image.

Manage social media outlets — Visibility in the marketplace often comes with scrutiny of your personal social media. Use privacy controls and do your best to heavily filter any posts that could be inconsistent with building a bigger and more professional career. The way you conduct yourself inside and outside of the workplace will affect your brand, positively or negatively. It is about being consistent and reliable. You want people to be able to trust who you are.

Look for opportunities to share your expertise — Public speaking engagements can often yield tremendous results. So much of this industry revolves around credentials and credibility, and anytime you can share your knowledge, you have the chance of impressing the right person. Speaking at conferences and seminars can immediately brand you as an expert. Also, leveraging your company’s social media outlets, or those of other organizations you are involved in, can provide an additional platform. Online content marketing submissions are easy, and you can do them as often as you like. Writing for trade journals is another place to share your knowledge and build your personal brand.

In addition to the ideas above, you can also teach, volunteer, or mentor in a variety of forums. The goal is to stand out and be visible in the marketplace. When you make an effort to become more visible with clients, you get noticed by your firm’s leaders and make yourself more valuable to the firm. Your personal brand is critical to your success, and a thoughtful and strategic approach will pay off for you in the future in ways that you cannot imagine. 

Chad Clinehens, P.E., is ZweigWhite’s executive vice president. Contact him at cclinehens@zweigwhite.com.


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