I recently had the privilege of speaking to our current Sales Graduate Academy in Dublin, California, which inevitably includes our future leaders from around the world.

My message was simple; a strong personal brand will help you reach your full potential and will have an incredible impact on your career.

How do you build your brand? I believe in 5 “golden rules” to live by …

·        Be authentic
– Be you, and be ok with it. The job market when I was completing graduate school was hot. I was lucky to have had my pick of several opportunities with market leading companies. Leaning toward Mercer HR Consulting, when they offered me the job, I made an ask. I asked to spend one day in the office to see if it was going to be a good cultural fit for me, and for them. I wanted to feel that I could be myself and thrive within that environment. I look back on it now and wonder that I was confident enough to make the ask, but that is who I am and spending that day allowed me to know I could be who I am at Mercer. So again, rule 1 – authenticity is really the key to your success.

·        Be competent
– Learn as much as you possibly can. Take jobs that others don’t want, sign up for additional projects or initiatives to continue to build breadth and depth and get visibility. The days of being a sales exec and just taking the
customers out to dinner, for drinks or out on the golf course to get a deal are over – you need to know your customers and how you can address what they need, and continue to learn throughout your career. Rule 2 – never stop learning.

·        Build relationships
– Get connected. SAP is like any big company that is geographically dispersed. It is all about who you know if you want to get things done. Pick up the phone, send an email and reach out to people to get help and be successful. Know how to connect. People help people they connect with and build a relationship with. My own success has been built on a foundation of my ability to work with people from different regions, different organizations. As I  applied for jobs in different areas, it was the support of my network that helped me be successful. You can also build the wrong kind of relationships, so you need to be careful and plan. Rule 3 – build successful relationships.

·        Sponsorships
find sponsors. I have had great sponsors throughout my career. A sponsor is very different from a mentor. A sponsor is not someone you ask to sponsor you – it is someone who will be an advocate for you because you earn it. They know what you have done and what you can do. They will stand up for you when there are issues and help you when you are looking for new career opportunities. Sponsorship happens over time and builds trust. Rule 4 – sponsors matter as much as mentors.

·        Take Risks
– Be bold, have a plan and deliver on what you say you will do. I am in my role today because I took a risk – at 9 months pregnant with my second child, I accepted a position requiring me to move my family to Heidelberg, Germany. I had a loose job description, did not really know my new boss, did not know the language, and had to figure out where I was going to have this baby. My personal network thought I had lost my mind, but I knew it would change my career and my family’s lives in a positive way – so I knew right away I would go for it. We were there 4 years, and I’d do it again for the right opportunity. Rule 5 – be bold and risk the unknown.

These are the things that guide me and have helped me to be successful and gain trust within SAP. Ask yourself these questions:

·        What personal brand do you want to build?

·        What is your personal brand today?

·        How can you leverage my 5 rules to build your brand?

Above all else, “be yourself as everyone else is taken” – Oscar Wilde

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  1. Marilyn Pratt

    Thank you Brigette McInnis-Day for participating in our community and sharing your personal experiences.  It is always inspiring when executives “do their own stunts” and really engage with folks. Kudos.

    Bill McDermott has been exemplary in this way and I found it stunning that he both answered comments and commented on others’ content here.

    Creating your “personal brand” on SCN means (to me) being authentically available and authentically in listen mode, as well as authentic and candid about “what makes me run”. Even in that there is risk….but those courageous enough to be transparent are usually rewarded with respect if not full agreement in opinions and approaches.

    May I be bold enough to encourage a picture in your profile? That way we can see as well as hear you!

    Again Welcome!

    Marilyn

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