At TheLadders, we write a lot about polishing your "personal brand" to create a consistent message of value through every step of an active job search. What's more, we encourage professionals to maintain their branding while happily employed; distinguishing yourself as a valuable asset helps ensure your job stability and ultimately serves to make your employer look good as well.
In a recent Smashing Magazine article titled "How to Maintain Your Personal Brand as a Corporate Employee," my colleague Jeff Gothelf (director of user experience at TheLadders) looks at the balance between personal and corporate branding. When do your own efforts at self-promotion harmonize with your employer's, and when do they leave room for friction?
According to Gothelf, the cornerstone of a personal brand is the quality of your professional contributions. But he notes that "personal brand" is often viewed as the specialty of hired guns with few corporate loyalties. How to reconcile the two?
"As a corporate employee you don't represent "you" out in public -- you represent the company," Jeff writes. "The opinions, theories and expertise you present publicly all get attributed to your employer." Meanwhile, companies and colleagues that don't fully grasp the power of social media to benefit them may view an employee who devotes time to it as a "show horse," not a "work horse."
The key, Gothelf opines, is to "make your employer the star." Be clear to disclose your employer on all media you present. Help make your company a thought leader by its association with you -- and be generous when it comes to bringing back learnings from your public appearances and reader feedback.
Of course, Gothelf writes, you want to have the right employer. When you review whether you're satisfied with your current company, its support for your personal-branding efforts should weigh in your calculations. "As your personal brand has been developing and growing, has your employer been supportive? Is there a broad corporate understanding of the benefits you can bring through promoting your thought leadership externally? If the answer is 'No' then it may be time to evaluate new opportunities."