A brand-new you

In this month’s Harvard Business Review is an article on reinventing your personal brand. I was about to flick past it when a headline declaring “Define your destination” grabbed me by the collar and trapped me into reading the whole piece.

It is more than a decade ago that a cover story by Tom Peters, the management writer, for Fast Company magazine dragged personal branding from its position somewhere in the margins of personal development into the mainstream of management thinking.

In the story, entitled “The brand called you”, he argued: “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

More recently, Dan Schawbel wrote the bestselling book Me 2.0, for Generation Y and the Facebook generation. It contains practical ways of harnessing online tools to professional advantage.

The piece in Harvard Business Review focuses specifically on the part personal branding can play in achieving a career shift. Dorie Clark, chief executive of Clark Strategic Communications, a consulting company that, according to HBR, “helps clients build their brand reputation and increase sales”, provides advice on how to transform what might be seen as weaknesses in experience or wrong turns into a positive narrative.

“The challenge is to be strategic about identifying how you wish to be perceived, developing a compelling story that explains your evolution, and then spreading that message,” Clark writes. “Consider it ‘search-engine optimisation’ for your life.”

Research into why more women do not make it to the boardroom often cites their apparent reluctance to communicate their ambitions or take ownership for career highs. We could all do worse than apply some of the advice in Clark’s article, both on defining goals and on strategically positioning your career in a trajectory towards them.

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About our bloggers

Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.