In July 2015, I delivered a marketing workshop at Juniper Networks. Several friends and family asked me to share online so I broke down the content into three blog articles. The following is the 2nd article in the series. If you haven’t already, please read the first article, The Big Question to Personal Branding.
Head’s up. You can’t effectively change or improve your personal brand without first understanding its current status. This requires an audit!
One of the best ways to analyze your personal brand is do a marketing SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Since there were a lot of Juniper interns attending the marketing workshop, I quickly gave them a potentially applicable analysis when focusing on employment.
- Strengths: what do you do better than the majority of your peers? What do you excel in that will differentiate you from other recruiting candidates?
- Juniper interns can focus on their academic grades and previous internship experiences. They may also refer to their ability to focus. The drive to succeed. Their insatiable hunger for wisdom.
- Weaknesses: what could you improve? What can your competitors do better than you?
- College students may not be fit for a specific job due to insufficient work experience. Fortunately, an internship with Juniper will be a strength for our interns. However, other potential weaknesses can be a lack of self-esteem or the confidence to do awesome work (as opposed to producing minimal, mundane results). Another weakness could be interns don’t know that many people and it can be intimidating to make new friends in such a big company.
- Opportunities: do any of your strengths open doors and paths for career advancement? What interesting trends are you aware of that you can use to move your career forward?
- The network interns have here at Juniper is sacred when it comes to career advancement. There are mentors available and willing to help those less experienced. After all, how do you think we climbed the corporate ladder? Sheer luck? Hard work alone? No, we have experienced friends and leaders who showed us how to move forward. Explore what needs Juniper Networks has internally. What teams lack resources to obtain their goals? Can your skills and experience help them? Propose your value and align with their goals when doing so. Employees at Juniper also have a platform called Yammer that breaks down silos and flattens the organization so that even a fresh new intern can have an engaging conversation with a variety of employee levels, including executives. Ask good questions. Connect with those you believe can help you.
- Threats: what obstacles do you face? What are your competitors doing that you are not? Are any trends or weaknesses affecting your career path?
- More competitive candidates. And this goes to everyone – I heard off the radio that 47% of today’s workforce was born after 1980. The millenials and we, Generation X’ers are in great competition with one another. Many of them are social savvy. Many of them have technical skills on top of being multi-lingual and creative. Competition is fierce.
A SWOT analysis is helpful. But a quicker and perhaps easier way to get genuine feedback about your current personal is to reach out to a friend. Participate in your SWOT analysis together.
And if you’re really bold, ask many friends. This can equate to a an intimate focus group where you are the spotlight. How do they perceive you? How would they describe you? Here’s a list of questions you can use. But you have to have a certain amount of willpower, patience, and open-mindedness to get genuine feedback. You can’t be defensive. You must be a sponge. Soak in the feedback. This information will give you a clearer picture of where you stand today. More importantly, compare who you are today to who who you want to be known as.
Lastly, make a gut check. How do you make people feel? How do people benefit by working with you? What words do they use to describe you?
And for those who already have a digital presence and an online brand reputation: set up Google Alerts. The beauty of this free service is that whenever your name, or a topic that is directly related to your personal brand is published on the Internet, Google will track the content and notify you of its existence.
The final personal branding article will focus on how to exactly build your reputation based on the information you have gained with an audit – creating, producing, and sharing content that defines who you are.