You’ve worked long and hard, sacrificing to build a solid reputation. When you’re out of the room, you know what they’re saying: He’s an innovative marketer. She’s a terrific patent lawyer. He knows everything about the Latvian export market. But what if you now want to rebrand yourself?
People reinvent themselves all the time—to take on a new challenge, shift into more-meaningful work, or rebut perceptions that have hindered their career progress. Sometimes the changes are major (a financial services manager moves into retail, a venture capitalist becomes a life coach). Sometimes the rebranding is subtle, as for an executive who wants to advance but needs to overcome the knock that he’s “not good with numbers.” Taking control of your personal brand may mean the difference between an unfulfilling job and a rewarding career. As Longfellow noted, “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” Your path may make perfect sense to you, but how can you persuade others to embrace your new brand—and take you seriously?
These days, I consult on strategy and marketing for Fortune 500 companies, major nonprofits, and government agencies. But I have also been a journalist, a political operative, a nonprofit executive director, and a documentary filmmaker—and I studied theology at Harvard along the way. In addition to doing my own rebranding, I’ve advised scores of executives who were looking for a new direction. I’ve learned that five steps are key to reinventing yourself for the business marketplace, whether your desired changes are large or small.
My article appeared in the March 2010 Harvard Business Review – read more and purchase a copy.
Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (HBR Press, 2013). She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, the National Park Service, and Yale University. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.