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Communicating a Professional Brand U lla de Stricker

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Presentation on theme: "Communicating a Professional Brand U lla de Stricker"— Presentation transcript:

1 Communicating a Professional Brand U lla de Stricker

2 The Information and Knowledge Professionals Career Handbook: Define and create your success Ulla de Stricker and Jill Hurst-Wahl

3 What We Will Cover Part One: Professional Fit Part Two: Brands Part Three: Telling Our Stories - the Value Message Part Four: Professional Visibility Part Five: Looking the Part

4 Basic Premise No matter how we earn our living, we are each and every one of us IN BUSINESS - individually or collectively (our personal brands vs. the brand of the employing organization) "If clients aren't buying, we don't eat" We compete in a social / corporate "economy" against … –Perceived convenience of the Internet –Never been to the public library … why start now? –Isn't the library where they keep the archival publications? –My boss doesn't require me to demonstrate I did research –Etc etc


6 Part One: Before Thinking about Brand - Lets Think Professional Fit: What am I, as a Professional? Awareness of innate strengths, preferences, and motivations can be helpful in choosing where to focus efforts and thus polish brand … … throughout our working lives

7 Defining our Professional Leanings through Questions Whether in school or mid-career, ask questions: What type of environment (non profit, public service, entrepreneurial, large firm, etc) appeals to me and why? Is there a subject area of particular interest (science, finance, law, public policy)? Is working with people or being alone at a computer the best fit for me? Do I crave structure/predictability or fast paced/no-two- days-alike work? What kinds of accomplishments make me proud?

8 Considerations When pondering the best work match - and thus for example the courses we take and the jobs we apply for - we might consider: Our own work personality Features of various kinds of work Our attitude to work life balance Sources of satisfaction and red flags Our natural roles

9 Work Personality Personality 1 Desk totally neat, files organized Likes long term schedules & plans, hates interruptions & uncertainty Prides self on perfection Prefers the control of solitary work Finds dealing with people stressful


11 Work Personality Personality 2 Desk a mess, files NOT organized Likes busy, chaotic days interacting with people Loves trying new things Copes well with ambiguity, not with rules and policy Finds it a challenge to meet deadlines


13 Work Personality Each would likely NOT be comfortable in the others environment!

14 Work Features: A Match? Beck-and-call, client-needs-a speech-now vs. preparing a report over 6 weeks Preparing and defending a budget vs. testing latest software Pioneering e.g. social media use vs. conducting research Customer facing sales calls vs. responsive reference service Never-before project planning and execution vs. comfort zone of taxonomy expertise



17 Work Life Balance & Aspiration My work is my life vs. my work is how I provide for my life Im always looking for opportunities to advance vs. Im content where I am Engagement in professional associations is vital for me vs. I want to spend my free time with family I want to make a name for myself vs. I dont want to sacrifice volunteer activities

18 Satisfaction vs. Red Flags It delights me when … I cant stand it when … I always look forward to … I dread … Such self knowledge shapes our choices over time … and feeds into our definition of our unique BRAND

19 Our Natural Roles Am I a natural … Leader/instigator/entrepreneur? Go-to person/fixer/problem solver? Trooper? Mentor? Etc Knowing our natural roles will point us in the direction of the best roles for us – and help us formulate our BRAND

20 Part Two: Brands With clarity about our professional fit, we are ready to think about creating and communicating a professional brand But wait: What is our definition of a brand for an information professional?

21 Types of Brands: Product Mont Blanc pen Samsonite luggage Queen Mary cruise liner We have a sense what to expect

22 Types of Brands: Corporate We have a sense what to expect

23 Types of Brands: Association Belgian chocolate - pure & refined German engineering - über quality Scandinavian design - sleek and spare Italian furniture - elegant Australian chardonnay - robust Fiji water - ultimate in clean Kona coffee from Hawaii - best taste We have a sense "what it is"

24 Types of Brands: Occupation Interior Designer, Chef, Journalist, Accountant … Though we may not know any such people, the image of what is offered is shared culturally & well understood Our profession lacks such a shared image Therefore, we must work on projecting the image we want (EXAMPLE: "I am so worth the money!")

25 Individual Brands: Family & friends associate certain qualities with us Reliable friend, trusted advisor Helpful neighbor, community supporter Passionate environmentalist Avid fan of U2 Organic foods advocate Life of the party We may have different brands with different groups

26 Individual Brands in Peer Groups Through professional associations: Familiar figure at the podium Always a good read Can be counted on to work in a committee Association peers have a sense and expectation of our contribution - through direct observation or general social commentary


28 Example: Peer Brand Question: When you think of Ulla de Stricker, what comes to mind? Colleague 1: Authoritative source of advice Guru of Knowledge Management Not afraid to take on challenges Well connected in the information industry And to me personally – a great friend and mentor Colleague 2: All that, and add: Whirling Dervish

29 What about our "Client Brand"? Potential and new clients - even existing clients - may not be aware of the reputation we have among our own peers Client perceptions may therefore be quite different from how we perceive ourselves, based on peer input And while we can't do consumer style advertising/PR, we can pay attention to the impressions we create


31 Part Three: Telling Our Stories As we don't have sales agents, we are each responsible for communicating about our value Every day on the job as well as when we are looking for one Question: How and what do clients and potential employers know about my qualifications and capabilities? If I were the manager … would I hire me?

32 The Value Message Our stories are built around a concise articulation of the difference we make: I meet the employers or clients needs because I am … A problem solver and ingenious innovator A client service ambassador building strong & loyal relationships A technical wizard with a magic intranet wand A skilled marketer and advocate Much as we may cringe, we must articulate!

33 Does it feel about this natural?

34 Communication Channels We "hand round" our resumes … but if potential employers/clients were to look us up on the internet … what would they find? An up to date and comprehensive LinkedIn profile? A Facebook presence showing us in a positive light? A website and/or a professional blog? Publications and presentations made at conferences? Pictures of a professional nature? What else?

35 Managing the "E-Evidence" Everything "out there" bears witness to our professional stature … lets control as much of it as we can Good practice to search own name periodically to check if mentions are appropriate (e.g. staff directory) Ensure "clean" social media presence Work on the resume and profile - get help if needed

36 Written Evidence Everything we "leave behind" - from emails to reports to resumes - bears witness to our professionalism Some believe it "should not matter" if we use poor formatting and casual language with errors … but it does! Fortunately, it's easy to follow a set of simple tips

37 Written Brand: Visual A unique professional style applied to all documents cant hurt (unless corporate style prevents it) Elements include font, colors, page setup, headers, graphic elements, etc Examples:


39 B We have a sense and expectation of quality

40 Needs Assessment, Research Information Center Submitted to Jeremy Halton Vice President, Corporate Services Collingbury Inc by Ulla de Stricker and Associates 11 January 2011

41 1. Introduction In response to an opportunity to enhance acpbki ioinr oaw v eopri eratpoti wapsd podf pdsos svgorkjg purkt oi oprtkj ero rof jwh akfj jfkjfkg opsfgouz 1.1 Study Process The project was devised as a oaw v eopri eratpotia w porkt oi oprtkj ero ri vpoir or erpoior eitoritiorit oqaritori orti-rt nnwp ogs jfkjfkg opsfgouz wbtl While text is fully justified, bullets are left justified Or else the text would be stretched too far to the right The cranberry and green colors print well in black/white: In some cases, recipients may not print in glorious color.

42 Written Brand: Language Professionals cannot afford sloppiness, errors, poor writing, etc The fact that an error in English usage is common … does not justify our repeating it! If grammar was never a favorite topic, there is much help to be had from usage experts 100 English Language Traps and Trip-Ups (free on my website under articles) - lighthearted inventory of common problems and associated memory aids - let me have your additions please!

43 Part Four: Invest in Professional Visibility for the (Evolving) Brand Desired reaction when resume hits potential employers desk: Oh, Ive heard that name … reputation for [leadership, problem solving, innovation, …] Doing a superb job may not suffice when it comes to getting the next one; building visibility is a wise investment in our careers … from the get-go Example: Organizing career seminars while still a student

44 Professional Visibility: Examples of Means Theme: Stick the neck out! Write: Professional blog, group manager in LinkedIn, white paper, article for professional journal, book … Teach: If not in a formal program, offer to show team mates how to use a new tool … Volunteer: Serve as campaign leader/contributor, etc Mentor: Be a trusted colleague and sounding board for others


46 Professional Visibility: Examples of Means Theme: Show what you are made of! Show up: Take a role in associations of your choice … just belonging is not going to cut it Show leadership: When ready, run for office in the association Show initiative: Spearhead projects (e.g. in an association) Show dedication: For example, be the editor of a newsletter or take on recurring association tasks consistently over years

47 Part Five: Looking the Part Impressions are formed very quickly … let's not risk thwarting opportunity through less than professional appearance Some believe it "should not matter" how we attire and equip ourselves … but it does! Fortunately, it's easy to follow a set of simple tips


49 General Considerations At the interview or at work, appearance sends a message about the care we are likely to take on the job Consider the environment: Back office vs. client facing, down on the floor with the kids, customer expectations Many dress-for-success type books are available Common sense rules! We want attention on what we offer professionally - not on our fashionable outfit

50 Simple Rules - Women, Men If in doubt, dress "up & more conservative" Natural fabrics/watch/jewelry materials only Quality and classic style, e.g. avoid dating fads Nothing tight, bunching, gaping, or revealing No lettering or logos Everything clean and in good repair Perfect grooming, any long hair in a controlled style Quality handbag/briefcase Tattoos and piercings? Think it through …

51 No: Wardrobe/Bag Women –Open toed shoes/slingbacks –Flounces, large ruffles, sequins, metal –Vinyl fashion handbag or tote –Decolletage, sleeveless, short skirt, bare legs: The amount of skin a woman shows is perceived as inversely proportional to her authority and competence Men –Sandals, bare feet in shoes, white socks –Wrinkled or torn anything –Jeans –Backpack

52 Yes: Signal Quality & Care In a job interview and a client meting, show further attention to detail and quality through … Classy notebook / portfolio binder (leather or ballistic nylon) Quality pen (e.g. Cross) - worth it at $20 Crisp everything (no dog ears) We want employers and clients to see us as embodiments of their own values


54 Bottom Line: We Owe Ourselves … Our clients get our full attention, dedication, and expertise We deliver quality work, every time, ahead of time They deserve the best from us … Would we deserve anything less?

55 Questions?


57 Thank You! Access to other seminars, articles, and blog at

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