You Are a Brand

Every so often, I have young women ask me how I have gotten so far in my career. I recognize the curious elevation in their speech and the longing for that dream career in their eyes. I was them ten years ago. I remember coming out of school with the credentials but no experience. In fact, it seemed like everyone around me was living that “Sex in the City” life except me. It was not until I entered the editorial world that I was faced with my toughest critic. She informed me that I wasn't going anywhere in my career because I didn’t think like a business. You can imagine the look on my face when I heard her statement. How was I to think like a business? Fast forward ten years, and I will tell you that thinking as a business has afforded me a wonderful career. I now fully understand that as you build a career you also have to become a brand. Branding is no longer just for celebrities, companies or organizations.  You are a brand as well!

With the career I've built, I'm known as a “slasher.” I'm an editor/writer/published author/blogger/speaker and publicist.  I easily work 15 hours every day, and within each day I try dedicate at least an hour keeping my brand relevant and fresh. I may pitch television shows or write an article or two for a blog or magazine. As long as I'm working, my brand has to constantly be reinvented and exposed. Let’s face it, who wants to hire a publicist that can’t even build his/her own personal brand?

The key to having a successful career is not through five magical steps or from reading a career self-help book. Career success comes from strategic planning, building networks, engaging in events, developing solid professional partnerships, confidence, hard work and good old blood, sweat and tears. A good career takes years to build.  Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin creating your dream career.

  1. You are not an island. Link up with a woman that you trust in your field who has a bit more experience and knowledge than you. Allow yourself to be mentored. Remember that you won’t be a success in three weeks, and that mentoring is a two-sided relationship.
  2. Understand that you are a brand. Branding takes strategy, a clear focus and patience. You will revisit your blueprint for your brand constantly, but have a solid plan before taking any leaps.
  3. Network. Network. Network. I know that you've heard this many times but you never know who you may meet! Get out there!
  4. Be a sponge. Soak up everything about the career or position you want. There's a lot of competition out there and you want to have a competitive edge to differentiate yourself.
  5. Loose the ego. You may think you know a lot but you have no idea. Be willing to listen, learn, and start from the bottom to work your way up. There is nothing like building credibility, because no one can take it from you once you have it.
  6. Embrace your mistakes because each lesson you learn will build character. It’s okay to make mistakes, because you don’t learn if you don’t mess up.  Trust me, it’s okay.

What are some of your favorite tips for building your career?

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