Build Your Personal Brand to Advance Your Career

 

By Beth Friedman, BSHA, RHIT

In marketing circles, “branding” is a verb. It’s a process that forces you to first understand, then be understood. For example, marketing agencies work with healthcare software companies and consulting firms to verify which specific problems they can solve. Once we understand the voice of the hospital client, we craft meaningful ads, messages, and other communications to market the vendors’ products and services. 

Building your personal brand in pursuit of a new position or job opportunity is quite similar. The same two steps apply: Listen, then communicate. 

Listen to Your Target Audience

When you’re trying to land a new position, the first step is to know your potential employer or hiring manager inside and out. Read between the lines of a job posting and ask targeted questions to understand: 

  • What problems is the hiring manager trying to solve?
  • How important are these problems?
  • What is the time frame for solving them? 

Separate what you “think” about the hiring manager’s problems from what you “know” they need. Consider all factors: people problems, operational or workflow factors, and technological feasibility when clarifying the requirements of your new target position. Armed with a deeper understanding of your target audience, it’s time to fine-tune your personal brand.  

Communicate Your Specific Skills, Talents, and Knowledge

Your personal brand extends way beyond your business suit. Personal branding engages a variety of tactics to achieve your goal. Just like marketing professionals use multiple strategies, consider every possible avenue for communicating your message. Here are three to consider:

 
  • Upgrade Your Knowledge: Does your new position require an additional degree or certification? Can you attend an upcoming webinar or conference to obtain more knowledge? Are online classes an option? Update your resume with all relevant educational achievements.
  • Promote Yourself:Are you active on LinkedIn? If not, now is the time to jump in with both feet! LinkedIn is the No. 1 professional network, and I suggest upgrading to the Premium version of LinkedIn during an active career transition. Here are a few additional LinkedIn tasks to complete:
    • Build your profile: About 50 percent of professional profiles are incomplete.
    • Go mobile: Download the mobile version of LinkedIN to remain active and current
    • Update your profile monthly: Include volunteer efforts, courses you have completed and conferences you have attended.
    • Secure endorsements: Ask coworkers, former employers, and professors for written endorsements of your work.
    • Be a part of the conversation: Join groups on LinkedIn that match your career goals and interests, and participate in these groups each week. Ask questions to encourage discussion. Demonstrate through your conversations that you are “in the know” about your career.
  • Lean In: Get involved within your own facility. Active participation in new projects, organizational challenges, and team-building campaigns resonates with hiring managers. Your involvement clearly demonstrates a desire to advance and reveals your long-term commitment to the organization. For more advice on leaning into a new position, check out: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.

Despite your best efforts, there will be times when the new position doesn’t materialize. Learning from your experience is the last step in preparing for your next interview, promotion, or higher-paying job. 

Connect the Dots from Past Experiences

Look back upon past experiences—personal and professional—to identify growth edges and glean wisdom. Look for patterns and trends in the past to help guide your future. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for candid, constructive feedback. 

I gave a presentation to a small group a few years ago. At the conclusion, I asked the audience for constructive feedback. One of the attendees said she was distracted by my dangling earrings. Easy fix. Instant results.

As you take the next step in your career ladder, listen closely, fine tune your brand, and stay actively involved at every juncture. 


   

Beth Friedman, BSHA, RHIT, is founder of Agency Ten22. Prior to starting the firm in 2005, Beth served as director of marketing for A4 Health Systems, McKesson, and eWebCoding.