Personal Brands Matter in Tacit Work

Labor revolution has taken us from transformational to transactional and now to tacit work. Personal brands matter most when what you buy is intellectual property. You aren’t going to make your name based solely on the hours you work, or the volume of paper you shuffle in a day. You need to strut your hard-won wisdom when it matters, and come out on top in this revolution by being a key influencer within and outside your organization.

This isn’t our father’s marketplace – with so much information and so many alternatives, there is not only an overload of options in the market, and getting your voice heard is just one of many sounds echoing in your management’s ears. Getting ahead isn’t just having the strongest experience, the best analysis, or the most correct argument- you need to learn to differentiate to accelerate.

I’m not suggesting you run out and chop a mohawk down across your skull, but I am suggesting that you need to think about how you stand out, both within your organization and in your professional market at large (depending on the size of your pond, this can be locally, regionally, or even internationally). If you are tired of being treated like another guy from [insert department here], give your audience good reason to perk up to your message.

A few recommendations for differentiating, which is so central to tacit business services:

  • Manage your personal brand. Don’t get trashed at company parties unless you are “that guy” (in which case, you can stop reading now). Remember that you are a sum of your interactions in each individuals eyes, and value of your advice is based on a perpetuating perception that you are competent – and most often right.
  • Think before you speak. This sounds easy- but we both know better (your mother has been telling you this for years). If you are senior enough to be advising on matters that require experience and understanding, be wary of the counsel you provide off the cuff. Speak clearly, speak plainly, and give your listener context – you’ll look smarter for it.
  • Value of Advice is Proportionate to the Cost of Said Service. Put another way, people have come to expect that they get what they pay for. Check the urge to give out too much free advice, because you can’t build a consulting practice (within a business or across businesses) on that model.
  • Help those around you grow the value of their tacit service offerings. Think of this as “pay it forward”- helping others become what they will one day be is a terrific investment. Even when the immediate financial reward isn’t visible, remember that your direct reports today could be your managers in your next engagement.
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