Career Compass

The Power of Personal Branding with Chris Kenny - Part 2 of 2

Episode Summary

<p>In Part 2 of this two episode series on the power of personal branding at work, co-hosts Erica Young and Kevin Abbed continue their conversation with SHRM Director of Brand Communication, Chris Kenny on how developing your personal brand can help you advance in your career.</p><p><b>EARN SHRM RECERTIFICATION PDCs FOR LISTENING TO THIS EPISODE</b><br /><br />This episode is Part 2 of a two-part series on the power of personal branding at work, and listening to both episodes qualifies for 1 PDC toward SHRM recertification. <b>All you have to do is listen to both episodes to claim your credit: All relevant details, including the Activity ID, are provided during this pair of episodes.</b></p><p>Subscribe to Career Compass  on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts. Check out <a href="https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/Pages/Podcasts.aspx">SHRM.org/podcasts</a> to listen to all of our episodes and also hear more podcasts from SHRM. And, be sure to rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts or your podcatcher of choice.<br /><br />Keep up with SHRM by visiting the <a href="https://www.shrm.org/">website</a> and follow us on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/societyforhumanresourcemanagement">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/shrm/">LinkedIn</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/SHRM">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/shrmofficial/?hl=en">Instagram</a>.</p>

Episode Notes

In Part 2 of this two episode series on the power of personal branding at work, co-hosts Erica Young and Kevin Abbed continue their conversation with SHRM Director of Brand Communication, Chris Kenny on how developing your personal brand can help you advance in your career.

EARN SHRM RECERTIFICATION PDCs FOR LISTENING TO THIS EPISODE

This episode is Part 2 of a two-part series on the power of personal branding at work, and listening to both episodes qualifies for 1 PDC toward SHRM recertification. All you have to do is listen to both episodes to claim your credit: All relevant details, including the Activity ID, are provided during this pair of episodes.

Subscribe to Career Compass  on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts. Check out SHRM.org/podcasts to listen to all of our episodes and also hear more podcasts from SHRM. And, be sure to rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts or your podcatcher of choice.

Keep up with SHRM by visiting the website and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Episode Transcription

Kevin:

Welcome back to Career Compass and thank you for joining us for Part Two of the Power of Personal Branding. Now, before we get started, we'd like to share the last four characters for the PDC. If you tuned into Part One, you should have received the first three characters and now to complete the code, please record "RMHC." That is R as in "Romeo," M as in "Mike," H as in "hotel," and C as in "Charlie." For your reference, the full code is available until March 1, 2022.

With that said, we will now continue with Part Two of our conversation on the Power of Personal Branding with Chris Kenny.

Speaker 2:

You bring up an interesting point about... and I really loved, Kevin, when you were talking about Martha Stewart and talking about how when she rebranded and also Chris, when you had brought up Martha Stewart, right, and how she took her brand, took a hit. It's interesting that she did lean into it? Right. And I kind of wonder if that is the key to a good rebrand, right? For good or for bad, I think a rebrand really takes a lean into it and honesty and authenticity, right, not trying to cover it up.

And I think also about Taylor Swift, kind of similarly how she had taken a couple setbacks, I think, in the mid-2010s or so, 2015, 2016 or so. And she talks about it in her documentary, the movie that was made about her, how she really took a whole year and just didn't see anyone. She just stayed inside. And then she came out with this totally different sound, right? And she addressed it. She addressed everything. And I feel like that was another good example of really leaning in when things don't go our way with our brand, and I wanted to get your thoughts on that, Chris.

In those moments when our brand kind of takes a life of its own in a way that we don't want it to go, would you say that that's the fix is leaning into it, showing that authenticity, maybe apologizing, right? What are your thoughts?

Chris:

Oh, no, that is such a great question and so much goes into it, right? So when you think of somebody like Martha Stewart or a Taylor Swift, I mean, to be honest, right, behind the scenes, they've got a whole crisis comms team, publicists, and all this stuff crafting the strategies to help you to recover, right? But I think there are some tried and true things.

When we go back to kind of the initial questions around building your brand, it really is about authenticity. You can't be that public and have that kind of fall and then come back and pretend like it didn't happen, right? That's inauthentic.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely.

Chris:

No one's going to buy that in the first place, which is not going to be good for your brand. So the idea of leaning into it, lots and lots of PR pros and things like that will tell you, "Yeah, you have to because in a way, you just have to own it. It happened. Everyone saw it." It's kind of like one of those things. Have you ever seen somebody who's outside and they're walking by themselves or jogging and they trip.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Chris:

And they do the look around, "I'm going to kind of play it off" moment.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Chris:

See if anyone noticed. Everyone notices, right? Everyone sees it, so it's just kind of dusting yourself off and keep going. It's not necessarily, "Okay, just turn around and go home. Your jog is over." And so I think it's a little bit of that acknowledgement, "Yes, this did happen, but I'm still standing, I'm still here, and there's still a lot more that I want to accomplish."

So it might take a little while for your brand to recover, but I definitely think it would be a mistake to not own what happened and to present as anything other than your authentic self in the moment.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely.

Chris:

Yeah. Sometimes, we all just have to take our lump, so to speak.

Speaker 2:

Definitely.

Now, let's bring it a little closer to home. Can you talk about a few examples where someone's ability to define themselves may have positively set them apart in the workplace?

Chris:

Yeah. Wow, that's a really good question. The first example that comes to mind is... so when I was working at a company called Digital Signal Corporation, you mentioned it when you kind of introduced me. It was a small tech company, but they worked on long range, 3D facial recognition software, which sounded very high tech and cool and very Minority Report. When I was applying, I was like, "Yeah, I got to work here."

So after I've been there for a few years, we had started taking on interns who were engineering students and things like that for the summers. And we had this one intern, in particular, who I think everyone remembered just came in, was smart as a whip, and I mean humble about it, but I mean, these are all doctoral level. I certainly don't have a doctorate degree, right. So these are all doctoral level folks and they're interning or being a fellow or that kind of thing, whether they're helping out with engineering or research, and just was so smart and came up with these fantastic ideas, solves, fixes for things with new products and whatnot.

Well, I'll say that to say, just by performance alone, this person so differentiated themselves and was just so dedicated to the work. I mean, all hours just really grinding on it, trying to get it to be perfect. And that was seen by so many people in the organization.

Well, needless to say, they were offered a very, very good job with the company as soon as they graduated. I mean, they made them the offer six or seven months before they finished their program. And they were just like, "We want you to come back."

Speaker 2:

That's awesome.

Chris:

And I think that was the only person out of the intern group that actually wound up with said offer.

And so I know that that seems maybe a little bit on a smaller scale, but when we think about it, isn't that the type of thing that we would all want to have happen? Our reputations so speak for themselves that you didn't really have to sell yourself, right?

Speaker 2:

Definitely.

Chris:

It was just noticed and picked up on. You were being your authentic self. You were working hard. You were bringing everything you had to the table and truly just being yourself and that, in and of itself, was enough to help this individual to build their equity that they had with the organization and their personal brand and resulted in a job.

Speaker 2:

Definitely. And it sounds like they had some qualities, right, that were really aiding in that. It sounds like people are smart, but being smart also means being curious, right, asking the right questions. And it sounds like this person was also showing up on time, was putting in extra time, was doing what was needed to be done in order to get the job done, which showed drive, right? Are there other qualities that you think are really huge brand enhancers?

Chris:

Oh, well, I think that anybody who is going to be dedicated to building their personal brand will definitely need to have a thick skin because everything... well, I mean, yeah, everything doesn't always work out the way that you want it to. So I think you would definitely have to have a thick skin, and I love that you talked about being curious because you do. You have to ask the questions. You have to have this internal motivation to develop yourself and to go after what it is that you want and no matter kind of what slips and bumps and things like that happen along the way, you kind of keep your eyes on the goal. Because like I said, building your brand is a process over time.

It doesn't happen overnight for personal brands, just like it doesn't happen overnight for big brands, right? Nike didn't just become Nike one day.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Chris:

Right? This is over the course of building a reputation for a quality product that appeals to this audience, et cetera, et cetera. And I think that is definitely something that people would need to realize and patience.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Chris:

It does take time, but you have to kind of stay on it. You can't really take a break from building your personal brand because every interaction with you, everything that you put out there on social media, how you present to colleagues, all of these kinds of things go into an overall perception of who you are as a professional or as a human being, and that's part of your brand.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, absolutely.

On that note. So we kind of explored a positive example, right? Do you have a kind of negative example and what I mean by that, are there qualities or some areas to avoid that may provide a negative perception that folks could be aware of?

Chris:

I think one that sticks out the most to me is if you have an inability to take feedback graciously, that it's going to be very difficult for you to build a brand and you probably don't want to build one, right, because the higher up you go, so to speak, or the bigger your brand gets, the more people that, essentially, are invited to weigh in on it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Chris:

I mean, whether it's on social media or whether you achieve some type of celebrity status or whether you're a big time business exec or whatnot, the bigger your brand gets, the more people that are aware of you, meaning the more people that are going to have an opinion.

But also in the building process, in my opinion, you're not going to build the brand that you want without people being able to give you that constructive feedback along the way to help you and your brand grow.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Chris:

So if you can't take feedback or if you can't take it well, not doing a good job at taking it also becomes a part of your brand and it can turn you into the type of person with a reputation that people don't want to work with you, which would be counterproductive to building your brand. So I think that's one of the biggest things.

And then another thing that I would say is you'd never want to burn bridges either. From a networking standpoint and professionally, it's good to have good, healthy working relationships with people, good, healthy, networking relationships with people, et cetera. You don't really serve yourself or anybody else well by burning bridges when you leave or when you're upset about something or something doesn't go your way. That's not a great way to build your brand because you never know when you're going to cross paths with someone again and what position you might be in, what position they might be in, et cetera.

So overall, I guess I think it's important to do your best to be a good human being at the end of the day because I think it does help. I mean, at the end of the day, you want people to... people need to like you, to like your brand, to buy into it, so to speak.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. I think that's such an important part that I feel like some... maybe not so much these days, but at least in the earlier part of my career, I feel like I heard a lot of people saying like, "You don't need to like me. We just need to work together." Not saying specifically to me, but I felt like that was advice that was given out in the world, and I just feel so strongly that's not the case, right, because we are much likely, much more likely to do people that we like favors than we are to help out someone that we don't like.

So I think you're totally right. I think that's kind of the key to professionalism and to continuing on your path, right, because ultimately, we all need people to help us get to where we're going. It's not something we can do in a vacuum. So having that perception, being a good person as well, so important.

Chris:

Yeah. I mean, and not to get too esoteric about it, but we're only moving into being a more interconnected people.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Chris:

Right? So I mean we're seeing, even in the environments that many of us and many of the people listening right now are working in, is it's remote and people are learning of new ways to connect and adapt to change, and the business world is changing and stuff. Anybody who says, "Oh, you don't need to like me. We just need to work together." If you're interested in building a positive brand that's growing and has longevity for yourself as a person, I don't think that that's something that you should subscribe to because it's not going to play well for you because to your point, right, it does take a lot of these relationships in order for you to develop and grow and learn from each other in your work environment or in your volunteer environment or in your school.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Chris:

Or whatever your situation might be. You should be able to learn from those around you, and that's a lot better experience if you attempt to be cordial and nice and try to get along.

Kevin:

Yeah. And especially in the days of social media, I mean, if you have someone who says we don't have to get along, we just have to work together and you go to another job and someone at that interviewing you makes that connection, that, "Oh, they know that person" and they go to them and say, "Hey, we're thinking of hiring so and so. What do you think about them?" All it takes is one bad review to tank a whole opportunity.

Chris:

Absolutely. A lot of building your brain really is about perception and perception matters. I guess people could say something like that and mean no harm by it, but why only do the bare minimum? Oh, we just need to work together. Is that the brand you want to build? I'm the guy who does the bare minimum. I'm good with mediocre or okay. That's just fine with me. Is that the person that the next organization hires, right?

I think if you think about it in terms of even those pieces, I think anybody who's trying to build a brand would say, "That's not really the reputation that I would want to have. That's not what I would want to carry over, and that's not what would be attractive to employers or people that I might want to network with or even potential mentors in order to help to grow me."

Speaker 2:

Totally in agreement.

Kevin:

So, Chris, I think we got enough time for one more question.

Chris:

Sure.

Kevin:

What if someone currently doesn't have a personal brand? You're graduating and you're still in college. You're still working on classes, and you haven't really had those interactions in the workplace. Where should they get their start, and what should they look to do first?

Chris:

Well, I think that's a really interesting question, Kevin, because I would actually challenge the individual and say, "You're probably building a brand and you don't even know it," right? So the people that you're even interacting with in class, those could be your potential workplace colleagues later.

Speaker 2:

Yep.

Chris:

Your professors that you're interacting with in class, those are also the people that you would like to write your letters of recommendation or who might help you to network or help to coach you for an interview or any of these kinds of things.

So I think that one of the first things that a person can do who's interested in starting to build their brand in an intentional way is recognize that you're already building one, one way or the other. And then going back to the basics and really paying attention to, "Okay, what are my actual goals? Where do I want to go? Where do I want to be in spending some time actually mapping that out and starting to chart that path?" But I think it does start first with the realization of, "Truly, I'm already doing this, so I might as well pay some attention to it and make sure that I'm being intentional, that I'm doing it in the way that's going to work best for me."

To get a little bit more practical about it, I would say a couple of steps would be to take a look at your social media. Not that it's bad, but what are you interacting with and who are you interacting with, particularly on platforms like LinkedIn and just get a little bit more intentional about that. Read the articles that really interest you and that pertain to where you want to go and interact with those people who are authors. Maybe you find some people to follow or you get involved in a group within LinkedIn or whatnot to enable you to interact with some folks or going back to some of the things that we talked about before.

If you're a little unsure, maybe some volunteer opportunities are the right way to go. You meet a couple of different people, and you try that in a couple of different ways, and you might find out a little bit about yourself and what you care about the most and what resonates with you the most in order to give you a little direction on starting that brand-building journey.

Speaker 2:

I love that, first off. Secondly, I think that you touched on something so important. I loved your response. Your first response was you're already building it and you're going to have to use your community even when you're in college or after college or before college. You'll be engaging your community, and it's so true. It's so true. I'm almost 10 years out of college, and I still reach out to people that I went to college with about various ideas and projects. And I reached out to one, recently, about a documentary I want to make, which I know is super random, and total side note, I haven't talked to him for eight years, and he was like, "Yeah, let's chat. What do you got?" And I've also had people that I went to college with or even grad school who have vouched for me for jobs, right, or referred me to roles or acted even as sort of a mentor when I was switching careers, right?

So these communities, I think you're totally spot on with don't burn bridges and in fact, enhance, if you can, every opportunity, right, the community that you have around you because you never know when you're going to want to kind of leverage those connections or leverage the people that are in your network and the unique talents and expertise that they bring. I think it's so important.

Chris:

I couldn't agree more. And I think I've had some of those similar experiences too, whether people that I've known in my network have helped me to find new opportunities. And also, I've had individuals reach out that I've not spoken to in years to say, "Hey, do you know of anything," or, "Hey, I'm interested in the same type of work you do. Would you mind being an extra set of eyes on my resume?" We didn't even necessarily get into resumes, but that's as far as, professionally, that is something that most people should pay attention to before applying to roles and making sure that you are branding yourself and telling your story in the way that you want to because it's all part of your brand.

So it's so multifaceted, but you're absolutely right. These relationships that you're building, even now, if you're a student or even starting a little bit later in your career, being intentional about building your brand, the relationships that you have, and the people that you see every day. It matters. It matters. And so being intentional about that and aware about that is a large part of starting.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Well with that, I think that we're coming to the close of our episode here. Chris, thank you so much for taking the time to share how we can all make the most out of our personal brands. I thought this was a lot of fun.

Chris:

Well, thank you, guys, both, so much for having me. It's truly been a pleasure. I love talking about this stuff and you guys were great, so thank you.

Kevin:

Yeah. Thanks, Chris. I mean, I feel like I definitely learned a lot too, so we really appreciate you coming on.

And with that, we're going to bring this episode of Career Compass to a close. We'd like to thank SHRM and the SHRM Foundation for providing us with this platform. But more importantly, we'd like to thank you all for joining us and hope you stay with us throughout the season as we discuss more topics like this episode.

Speaker 2:

For more exclusive content, resources, and tools to help you succeed in your career, consider joining SHRM as a student member. You can visit us at shrm.org/students to learn more about being a part of a community of over 300,000 HR and business leaders who impact the lives of over 115 million employees worldwide.

Kevin:

If you like what you heard today, we'd love your subscription. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And do you have a topic you think we should cover or a guess you think we should hear from? We'd love to hear it. Email us at careercompasspodcast@shrm.org.

Speaker 2:

And finally, are you looking for more work and career related podcasts? If so, definitely check out all things work and honest HR at shrm.org/podcasts. And again, thank you so much for listening. We will catch you on the next episode of Career Compass.