How To Build A Better Professional Brand And Reputation
How you see yourself is important. Self-confidence and self-belief are key elements of forming a strong professional brand.
But the way your colleagues and employers see you could be different to how you see yourself.
Due to a psychological phenomenon known as the fundamental attribution error, or confirmation bias, it’s difficult to influence other people’s opinions of you.1; This bias causes people to associate something you did with who you are as a person, instead of considering it in relation to the situation you were in when you did it.
Learn how to use a rebranding strategy to overcome confirmation bias and negative reputations and craft yourself a new professional brand. Reshape how your colleagues, bosses and potential future employers see you to help yourself get ahead in your career.
Do you need a new professional brand?
To figure out if you need to create a new professional brand, ask yourself this simple question: Is how I’m currently perceived by others aligned with how I want to be perceived?
If the answer is anything other than a resounding yes, it’s time to reinvent your professional image. Refresh your personal identity to realign how people see you with how you want to be seen.
How do you create a new professional image?
When you plan your professional brand overhaul, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you get it done in the least painful way, and with the best outcomes.
Identify the key professional traits you want to embody.
You need to work hard to convince people to reconsider what they think about you. Beat the effect of confirmation bias on your perceived image by putting in extra effort to overcome it.
Do your coworkers think you struggle with punctuality? Then arriving at 8:01 isn’t going to cut it. To beat the negative expectations people have of you and clear any bad reputation you may have, you need to arrive at 7:45 every morning – until their opinion of you changes.
Use this three-step framework to make the changes you want people to see in you:
Get people’s attention.
Appearance has been shown to be more important than reality,2 so you need to show off your new behaviour. There’s no point making changes to your behaviour if you don’t take every opportunity to showcase your new brand identity.
Look for opportunities to work with the people whose minds you want to change, and focus on presenting the professional brand image you are trying to achieve.
Get busy networking.
Networking is a powerful workplace tool – 85% of all roles are filled through networking.3 Build a strong network to gain positive influence in the workplace, and rebrand yourself in the eyes of your colleagues.
Network with your peers by sharing your ideas with them. Because networking is based around the concept of sharing knowledge and opinions, it allows you to show your coworkers and bosses that you’re a team player looking to add value.
Ask for mentorship.
Feel like someone isn’t responding favourably to your attempts to rebrand yourself? Consider asking them for help or advice.
As Dorie Clark, CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and author of Reinventing You and Stand Out, suggests you ask that person for mentorship. “They usually feel flattered,” says Clark, “and it changes the dynamic because you’re making yourself vulnerable to them.”4
Emphasise your rebrand.
Highlight the new you in order to overcome the opinions people have of the old you. Over exaggerate your new professional brand so your colleagues and superiors can see the changes you’re making. Once you’ve changed people’s perceptions of you, you can tone down to a stable happy medium.
You aren’t going to cultivate a new professional identity overnight. Clark believes, “The stronger the impression, the longer it’s going to take to change.”5 But don’t let that discourage you – the sooner you begin, the sooner you will see a difference in how others see you.
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