By Jean Pierre Imanirumva
Companies use their time, money and efforts to build their brands. According to statista.com, Google generated 146.92 billion U.S dollars in 2020 from advertisements. Apple spends over 1.8 billion U.S dollars on advertising. Nike's advertising and promotions cost approximately 3.11 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 alone (as of the writing of this article). A big part of this amount is for branding. Isn’t that amount very high?
All of these branding and marketing projects are led by employees. While this is great for the organization, unfortunately very few employees are putting any effort into building personal brands.
Per Melker is an exception. Currently the Group Vice President/GM at IDC, Per shared with me in an interview how he used personal branding to grow throughout his career. In his role, he is leading IDC and IDG's IT Executive Programs and CIO Executive Council. IDC’s analysis and insight help technology professionals, business executives, and investors make fact-based technology decisions, and better achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s largest media, data, and marketing services company.
“I built my personal brand on communication, collaboration, and delivering on time,” he said. “You are always presenting your corporate brand, but equally important is that you understand what your personal brand is.”
Per emphasized the importance of us differentiating one’s personal brand from others. Interestingly, I read this same idea from marketing expert Philip Kotler who once said that if you don’t build your brand, you will be like the rest. Once you are like the rest, it is very hard to be an innovator and advance in your career.
Per advises you to connect with as many people as possible. Let them know that you do exist and that you can have value to add. While building your network, focus on the people whose work aligns with your interest. “For example, if you are going for a project management role, have you built a network of strong project managers in your area,” Per said.
He suggests that after building a network, an individual can do his/her best to build a relationship. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask, would you mind if I take 15 minutes of your time? Or do you mind meeting for a cup of coffee? I would like to be in this field and would like to learn more about you and how you do this job,” Per suggests.
One of the stories Per shared was from early in his career when a 20-minute coffee meeting, with someone he just met, provided the clarity he needed to progress in his professional career. Being able to articulate his value and possible impact led to an introduction and a new job opportunity.
Make your communication stand out
The way you communicate defines how others perceive you. Communication with your professional network will lead them to decide what they can do for you. When you are facing challenges, have solution-oriented communication.
“Present a situation, talk about where you are in the process, but also present, here are the next steps that I am planning to take to solve this, to speed this up, to get more information, to bring additional resources,” he said. “Show everyone that you are a solution-oriented person; it will make you stand out from the crowd.”
Tips that will help you to build your brand and achieve career success
In my career, I am aiming to achieve success in the field of Information and Technology. After interviewing Per, here are the tips I got from him that are going to guide me along the way. I highly recommend you to be guided by them too.
❖ Always have a plan.
❖ Craft solution-oriented communication.
❖ Set your goals high. Understand where you are going to take your career.
❖ Understand challenges and plan on how you will overcome them.
❖ Talk to people, learn from them, and let them know what you can do.
❖ Pursue opportunities when they come along.
❖ Be the one that works across teams.
❖ Make decisions that will empower your career.
❖ Get ready to work hard to be successful.
❖ Possess a can-do attitude.
❖ Don’t be afraid of asking for help and at the same time be ready to give back when you are in a position to do so.
These points and a personal brand work hand-in-hand.
“Always ask yourself, what is my personal brand? What are those foundations that I am going to build my career on?” Per suggests. “Personal brand is extremely important. Understand it, manage it, nurture it, and of course, build on top of that.”
Your brand will define your career. Whether you are looking to get your first job, or if you have an opportunity at a time, always ask yourself this question: “What is my brand?”. If you can’t answer it properly, then I highly recommend taking into account Per’s advice. As companies like Apple, Google and Nike can attest to, it is a worthwhile investment!
You can learn more about Per Melker via his LinkedIn profile. Per is also a volunteer with Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI), a non-profit organization that provides guidance and business skills to underserved college students. We thank GMI for their support in sharing with their volunteers the opportunity to be interviewed by SNHU GEM students who are taking part in the Interview an Innovator program.
Jean Pierre Imanirumva is a BA in Management Graduate of Southern New Hampshire University. He is also a full-stack software developer looking to achieve success in software engineering. You can learn more and connect via LinkedIn. Check out his portfolio, and leave a message if possible.