If you are interested in personal branding, you should read and follow Dorie Clark. Period. There are many other good resources available, but Dorie is one of the top people to follow in this area. Read her on Harvard Business Review and Forbes; follow her on Facebook and Twitter and not only read her posts, but see what she does; and of course, get her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future. I bought Reinventing You, read it, was reading it a second time and left it on a plane so I bought another copy.
Obviously I liked it a lot. I really liked Dorie’s approach: it provides the steps to reinventing your brand. The approach in Reinventing You was similar to one of the first articles I read that was written Dorie, A Campaign Strategy for Your Career, which I thought was brilliant. In A Campaign Strategy for Your Career, Dorie discusses developing a plan (similar to a campaign plan) to get from where you are to where you want to be in your career. Similarly, in Reinventing You, Dorie takes you from where you are through each step to reintroducing yourself as a new brand.
Dorie begins the book talking about personal branding and how “it’s no longer possible to sit back and count on getting noticed for your hard work alone.” She shares a remarkable quote from William Simon, former Secretary of the Treasury:
I have never been interested in merchandising myself or perpetuating a public image. Indeed, it is always difficult to ascertain just what your image is and it is almost impossible to improve or diminish how people view you other than through direct personal contact. I simply work hard and try to be successful at what I do.
There are so many people who “simply work hard and try to be successful at what [they] do.” Working hard and getting results works well, but only to a point. There are leadership changes, economic shifts, mergers and acquisitions. Believing that throughout these changes, someone will recognize your efforts and accomplishments and promote you is like believing in Cinderella — work hard, be virtuous and someday a prince will come and you will live happily ever after. Of course, Cinderella is a fairy tale. Stanford Business School Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer recognized the poor correlation between performance and power and said that it is important to be noticed. Pfeffer noted said that “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down” is poor career advice. I share Dorie’s view on the importance of cultivating a personal brand.
Dorie walks the reader through the key stages of reinventing. She devotes a chapter to each step:
- Recognize Where You’re Starting
- Research Your Destination
- Test-Drive Your Path
- Develop the Skills You Need
- Who’s Your Mentor?
- Leverage Your Points of Difference
- Build Your Narrative
- Reintroduce Yourself
- Prove Your Worth
- Keep It Going
There is so much wisdom in this approach. Take stock of where you are, figure out where you want to go, test it to make sure it’s really what you want to do, then here are the steps to help you get there. Dorie breaks down the process into manageable steps; and for each step, Dorie guides you through how to do it and shares stories of other people and how they did it.
I highly recommend Reinventing You. Great approach, manageable steps, expert guidance. Of course, you don’t like this approach, there’s always the George Costanza approach.