Building a Personal Brand as a Project Manager
by Jon Michail
I recently conducted a seminar for the Project Managers Institute (PMI) in Queensland and discovered that the idea of personal branding for many project managers is not only frightening, but unnecessary and pointless.
Those who subscribe to this belief often object to developing a personal brand based on a perceived notion that it is reserved for professionals in the consulting industry, or for those in the public eye. This perception bias couldn’t be further from reality, and in taking such a stance they’re limiting their opportunities and stifling their potential.
Branding can be very beneficial to a project manager’s career by exposing both themselves to new experiences, and exposing them to others — to be seen, and to be known. This is what branding is about: the personal marketing that makes others aware of who you are, and allows them to become intrigued.
Speaking to Dave Wright, President of PMI (QLD), debunked my initial impressions when he said.
“You only get one chance to win the confidence of your project stakeholders. Dress smart, speak confidently and know your material.
Before you speak in a meeting, your project stakeholders will already have an impression of you. Make sure your body language and your outward outlook are positive and warm to your audience”.
The practise directly leads to those roles every project manager pines over, so it’s a mystery to the proponents of the practice as to why there aren’t more engaging in such a favourable practice.
Fear might be a leading reason, although, perhaps they aren’t fully aware of what building a personal brand can lead to? Or even what personal branding consists of.
During the workshop we covered the basic foundations of personal branding and the ‘system’ required to activate the personal brand
So what is a personal brand?
Branding is the practice of making your client easily identify your product or service and associating it with a particular experience. Things like logos, uniforms, manners etc, all communicate and are employed in the hopes they become familiar images that will insight a certain feeling within the client.
All relationships are built on effective communication, verbal and non-verbal and everything matters. Reinforcing the importance of this practise Wright said, “emails are easy to misinterpret and can lead to poor relationships on projects. Always ensure you are polite and courteous, no matter who the recipient. At the same time, be positive, firm and definitive and you will be respected”.
If done correctly a company can benefit extremely from branding, in fact a successful business cannot be produced without such a strong connection between a product or service and its identifying markers.
Personal branding is this concept applied to a single person, with the objective being to associate certain characteristics and qualities when the persons’ name is heard or read. The idea is to use this concept to “market” yourself — to make a name for yourself, of what you’re known for, and what makes you unique.
Carving out your own brand.
It’s important when developing a personal brand for you to establish what kind of project manager you want to be; what qualities you will excel in, and what qualities you wont need. People need to have no second thought on what you’re about.
The most successful companies have an expert portrayal of their brand, by keeping misunderstandings at a crucial low. Apple are one of the most successful tech brands in the world, and they rarely upset their clients even the times when they have stuffed it. Why? Because they have built such a reputation that clients only care about the ease and speediness of their service, the good looks and presentation of the product are all premiums that deliver in spades.
You might be an action oriented and diligent manager, who specialises in projects that relate to the common person, and have no desire to delve into things of a more upmarket feel. There is nothing wrong with specialising in a niche, leaving attributes out whilst keeping certain characteristics in and strengthening them, in fact, many people prefer this as they follow the common saying “jack of all trades; master of none”.
It’s time to begin.
Create your future.
Whatever you want to be the best at, you will when you start building and monetising your personal brand and it’s never too late as I sometimes hear. By following your passion and having others demand what you have to offer, you are stacking the odds in your favour in a highly disruptive marketplace.
Project Managers deliver great value, is your personal brand congruent with this value?
Jon Michail is Group CEO of Image Group International, Australasia’s No 1 image coach. Image Group International supports executives and entrepreneurs to become iconic and monetised leadership brands.