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February 1, 2017

Building your profile and personal brand

How you can stand out from the crowd? 

Building your profile & personal brand

Carla Miller

Why it matters

It can be hard to stand out from the crowd.  When you apply for jobs you are just one of many candidates with similar experience so you can't be sure you'll even be shortlisted. Imagine if the charities you admire were actively approaching you for a job because they'd heard you were great.  That's what building your profile and your personal brand can do for you.

What is a personal brand?

Ask any expert and they'll tell you that a corporate brand is much more than a logo or strapline.  It's the whole experience that people have of an organisation.  And it has to be authentic.  The same principle applies for your personal brand - it's about how you want people to think and feel about you, however they come into contact with you.  

For example if you want to be seen as professional then you need to make sure that professionalism comes across in how you deal with colleagues and supporters, how you answer the phone, how you act when you're stressed out and your social media profiles.  We've all heard the urban myth of the job candidate who treats a random person terribly en route to their interview only to discover that the 'random' person is actually the interviewer.  It's also why I make sure that I treat receptionists with the same warmth and respect as I treat CEOs - it's all part of your first impression and how you treat people who can't help you says a lot about you as a person.

Know where you're headed

To build an effective personal brand you need to know what you are trying to achieve.  Do you want to head up the best corporate partnerships team in the sector?  Become a Director of Fundraising or CEO one day?  Become a consultant or work for a funder?  Or simply have the best pick of jobs at the level you're at now?  You need to be clear on that so that you can map out your strategy.

You need to decide.

. WHAT you want people think about when they think of you 
. HOW you want people to feel about you 
. WHO you want to raise your profile with

Start here

Let's start with some thinking about your personal brand.  Grab a pen and paper and answer these questions.


What are your values at work?  For example is it important to you to be honest?  To be helpful?  To be successful?  To be a leader?  To be thorough? Inspiring?  Popular?  Expert?  Team player?

If that's hard then consider what you'd hate people to think about you and then reverse it. For example I would hate people to think I was taking the credit for their work so integrity and championing others are important values for me.

What words would you like people to use to describe you?

What words do people already use to describe you?

What direction do you want your career to head in?


How do you want people to feel about you?  

How do you want people to feel about themselves after spending time with you?

The answers to those questions should give you some ideas about WHAT you want people to think about you.  Distil that down into a few words or sentences so that you can keep them front of mind.


Now onto the WHO.  Who are you trying to influence?  Is it your colleagues?  Recruiters?  Future employers?  Future clients if you're thinking of being a consultant?  

Grab your notebook again and...

Note the top three target audiences that you want to influence at the moment (and then update it in the future if your focus changes).

Write down where these target audiences get their information from.  This relates back to WHAT you want to achieve.  If you're looking to establish yourself as a thought leader in corporate partnerships then where are your target audiences getting their information about corporate partnerships from?  If you're looking for your next job as a Head of Trusts, where do the existing Head of Trusts and Directors of Fundraising spend time?

Now you know what impression you want people to have of you and who you want to impress you can make a plan of action.  

Internal profile raising:

Volunteer for working groups, social committees etc to build your relationships outside of your team

Look for opportunities to improve on the ways things are done and offer to help

Be sure to thank and raise the profile of anyone that helps you.  For example if the Director of Programmes takes time out of their day to meet one of your donors and a gift is then made, be sure to update and thank them and share the credit with them

Share your long term objectives with your line manager and get them on board

External profile raising:

Review your social media profiles, especially Linked In and make sure they align with what you want people to think about you

Broaden your network - Linked In is great for this and people are very open to receiving connections 

Get out there - make the effort to attend sector events and funder events and read about trends and developments in your field

Become a thought leader - if you've got opinions on how things could be done differently or are passionate about a particular subject.

This article is from Leading Successful Fundraising Teams, by Carla Miller


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