Technologists are perhaps the least aware of all employees of the value of having a personal brand.
More important to them is getting a project done on time, completing development, going from test to production or ensuring the business has signed off on requirements.
Technologists need to transcend the perceived narrow boundaries of their job descriptions and develop a brand that communicates the value they add to the organization.
Today, brands are no longer the sole domain of companies. An individual’s brand is just as critical in promising value and trust to others in the company.
Tom Peters, the well-known author of “In Search of Excellence,” writes: “What is it that my product or service does that makes it different?” Translating this into personal branding, what do you do as a provider of technology services that makes you stand out and compel someone on the business side to work with you?
Integrating Business and Technology
A recent finding by McKinsey highlights the difficulties business managers and technology providers continue to wrestle with: “…only 26% of technology leaders proactively engage with business leaders on new ideas or system enhancements.”
Companies with a low ranking will have significant difficulty enabling new strategies and integrating business and technology objectives. They’re doomed to fall behind those firms where technology providers and their business counterparts work together harmoniously.
Building your personal brand
To “engage” with the business, technologists need to develop a personal brand embodying five qualities:
Advocacy: as an advocate, a technologist will actively support his peers and counterparts on the business side. Instead of waiting for a “charge code,” the technologist will represent the business needs to his colleagues and seek the best possible solution, even if there’s disagreement that requires a new approach to the problem.
Knowledge: technologists must know the business – how it makes money, the markets in which it competes, threats, competitors’ strategies – as well as his business partners. There is no other way to gain respect than for the technologist to see herself in the same position as his colleagues who have the P&L responsibility. Indeed, without knowing the business, technologists will remain merely providers of infrastructure, never being sought out for adding value.
Presence: it’s not only about how you look, your poise or your sophistication; rather, presence is an authentic quality that builds trust in others. No matter what your style, people want to listen, follow, and do great work for you. Presence is projected wherever you are and in whatever you’re doing. It is essential for developing the strong relationships required in order for you to do your best work. You have to make your internal clients confident that they are in good hands.
Authenticity: because you will be guided by the facts, you will be trusted and known as reliable and believable. Your stature when discussing alternative technical solutions and possibilities for the business will be credible because you are being true in your thinking, your understanding, and your representations. Businesses will value what you are saying because there will be no agenda attached.
Dependability: simply said, you are trustworthy. When you make a suggestion, disagree, deliver bad news, or ask for more time, because they trust you, your message is far less likely to generate questions or doubt. In fact, your communications with business leaders will be enhanced since there’ll be less stress embedded into the message — based on the past, they know what you’re saying is accurate and honest.
Standing out from the crowd by creating your own brand does not mean you have to be loud, self-absorbed, controlling or possess a huge ego.
Instead, it is about representing yourself so that you are seen as someone who knows what she is talking about, gets the point across, is credible, can be counted on, thinks beyond technology and, above all, is trustworthy.
By leveraging who you are, you build personal equity, which is your brand.
Technologists must develop personal brands so that their colleagues begin to imagine them as leaders, even if they don’t have the title.
Frank Faeth coaches technology, operations and business executives how to collaborate more effectively with their counterparts. He has held senior positions managing technology and business units with , ChaseMasterCard and Marsh, Inc. Visit him Faeth Consulting.