I seem to be asking this question of so many people and NGOs lately, “What do you want to be famous for?” This seems a fairly simple question but make no mistake, it’s not a question that’s been answered easily by anyone that I’ve asked.
It seems that we are all so focused on delivery that we’ve forgotten to ask ourselves, what drives us, what makes us tick, how happy we are, how we add value and what we want to be remembered for. What is the short and long term strategy for our success and what are the milestones along the way? Fast forward your life or your organisation 5 or 10 years. Where are you? What are you doing? Are you happy? Are you successful? What are you famous for?
Many years ago my boss told me not to dress for the job I had but, for the job I wanted. Since I wanted his job of course, instead of becoming his clone, I started talking to many woman I respected in my industry. I checked out how they dressed, how they presented themselves, how they used their networks and how they lobbied. I guess I was gathering market information, analysing it and using what I needed in order to make decisions for my own future.
Your personal brand is no different than a company brand with brand values. Who are you? Or better still, who do you want to be? How do you want to be seen by your colleagues, friends or employer? If you were to compare yourself to a product or a company logo, what product or company would you be? What do you need to improve or change about yourself in order to fulfill your brand promise?
You don’t have to have a lifetime of experience behind you. Look back over the last few years and write down what you’ve learned and how you felt when you were learning. Was it an energy draining or energy giving experience. Find out what you enjoy, what gives you that kick, what you’re good at and focus on getting even better at it. Focus on improving the 80% of you that’s already terrific! Write down your mission statement and then write down activities that you need to carry out in order to fulfill your mission statement. Think about what you’ll be doing in 5 years time and write down the things that you need to achieve to get there; your milestones. If you can visualise it and write it down, you can make it happen.
Then communicate, communicate, communicate. Let everyone know who you are and where you’re going. And remember, when in doubt, be yourself!
For Dutch NGOs a few additional words of advice. The clock is ticking. Changing laws in the Netherlands mean that in 2015 many subsidies will cease to exist. So, how will you make your organisation attractive to prospective benefactors. Commercial businesses want to know what’s in it for them. So, do you have your elevator pitch ready for when you speak to the CEO, Marketing or HR Director? These pitches will all be just a little bit different of course. What is your NGO famous for?
Whether you’re a budding student ready to take on the world, an executive with years of experience or an NGO struggling with changes which have yet to come into effect, step off that speeding train and give yourself the time to figure out who you are, who you want to be, and where you’re going. And, remember, keep it simple, it’s not rocket science. It’s your life!
For some tips on building your personal brand, check out Business Insider.