5 Personal Branding Questions To Drive Your Engineering Career

Recently, my good friend and master networker, Alana Muller, wrote an important and compelling blog post titled, Make Your Case. It resonated with me immediately and reminded me of something I’ve been wanting to share with you for quite a long time.


CC image courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

In her post, Alana told the story of a friend, who after being passed over for promotions more than once, took it upon herself to gather the facts and successfully “make her case”. In the end, Alana’s advice to each of us is that “You must advocate for yourself!”

The Brand Called You from Tom Peters

The something that Alana’s post reminded me of is an outstanding related article that I first read in the Aug. 1997 edition of Fast Company magazine. It was written by management consultant and author Tom Peters, and was titled, The Brand Called You.

If you’re not a baby boomer like me, you may not recognize Tom’s name and know that he co-wrote the bestselling 1982 book, In Search of Excellence. Peters is widely thought of as one of the leading shapers of modern management (along with Peter Drucker).

Relevant, Valuable, Prescient

The wonderful thing about The Brand Called You article is that it’s just as valuable and relevant today as it was over 17 years ago. Peters nailed the topic cold and at times seemed to be prescient.

Core Messages

In typical Tom Peters fashion, he opens the article with the bold statement, “To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

Later he tells us, “Along the way, if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.”

5 Personal Branding Questions You Must Answer

In order to accomplish the challenge of branding ourselves, Peters provides the following five questions and many accompanying thoughts for us to ponder (Note: Although some are slightly edited, these five italicized bullets are all excerpts from the article) 

  1. What Makes You Different? Starting today you are a brand. Start asking yourself new questions. What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value? What do I want to be famous for?
  2. What’s The Pitch For You? So how do you market brand You? The first step is visibility. Sign up for an extra project. Try teaching in your company or at a community college. Second, remember that in a personal visibility campaign: it all matters…What you say…How you say it…Your style. Finally, how will you nurture your network of colleagues — consciously?
  3. What’s The Real Power Of You? To grow your brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power — your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word! It’s not ladder power. It’s influence power. It’s reputational power. Power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. 
  4. What’s Loyalty To You? Today loyalty is the only thing that matters. But it isn’t blind loyalty to the company. It’s loyalty to your colleagues, loyalty to the team, loyalty to your project, loyalty to your customers, and loyalty to yourself. But being CEO of Me Inc requires you to act selfishly — to grow yourself, to promote yourself, to get the market to reward yourself.
  5. What’s The Future Of You? It’s over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That’s not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense.

The article closes with a powerful paragraph and what Peters says are, “…the four things you’ve got to measure yourself against.” Trust me, it’s a powerful closing with immense value.

I can still remember buying and reading Peters’ book, In Search of Excellence, with great interest in 1982. It’s findings and themes quickly became the guiding lights for companies that wanted to be great.

This article is no different. It’s chock full of the career guidance every engineer, no…every employee, needs today to excel and to become remarkable. 

I strongly urge you to print the article, read it, and act on the timeless wisdom that Tom Peters shared. Then rinse and repeat, again and again. 

Question: What do you want to be famous for? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

ECL Readers: Tom Peters is a guy who doesn’t pull any punches. In my past experience, he always says what’s on his mind. If you liked this article, I encourage you to check out the videos on his site and his other writings

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