Written by Meghan Kennelly on Jul 14, 2016

Your Personal Brand & Self-Promotion – Part 1

Let’s take a moment to reflect. Think about the way you are perceived both internally and externally. Are you viewed as innovative? Are you known as a thought leader in your industry? Are people clear on who you are as a leader?

Right now, companies are being forced to reinvent themselves to stay ahead of the competition. They are assessing their talent and determining who the right players are to lead through such large change initiatives. If you answered yes to the above, you might be one of the lucky ones who gets a seat at the decision table. If you answered no, even to one of the questions, then you have some work to do.

For a lot of us, myself included, thinking about self-promotion makes us cringe. Showcasing yourself and your work can be troublesome for some, and exciting for others. Unfortunately, for those of us that shy away from it, getting yourself “out there” is essential for your career progression. Not displaying and publicizing the value you bring to your business can prove detrimental.

Before we consider promoting ourselves, we must first determine the image we want to set forth. We must think about our personal brand.  As part of this series, we will provide the foundation for you to develop your own brand story and provide you with tips to help promote it.


Rari Hilditch, Director of Talent and Leadership Development at CIO Executive Council has been a leadership and executive coach for more than 5 years and has coached more than 400 IT professionals. One of her most requested topics is Personal Branding. I asked Rari to share some key points from her experience to help clarify what a personal brand is and how we can work towards clarifying our brand and sharing our story with others.

What does personal branding mean to you, Rari?

I take a unique approach to branding when working with clients. Most leaders have limited time to breathe let alone take the time to decide who they are and why they do what they do and then go market it. So I think it’s that discovery process I lean to first as part of branding. It’s the understanding of why we do what we do, what jazzes us up and being able to define that. Someone once said ‘if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.’ I just love that line because if you can’t tell your story to yourself, there’s no way you can market it to others. It begins with how you feel about yourself.  Most don’t know or are uncomfortable about how they feel about themselves and discovering can be an amazing process.

What goes into building out your brand?

It’s a self-exploratory process. You can work with a coach, you can read books and listen to podcasts, but at the end of the day you’re the one who has to make the lift. You’re the one who has to take the time to explore the various parts of you.  You’re the one who has to dig deep. Your brand is a complete reflection of you. Everything you say and write, the conversations you have face-to-face, how you stand, how you look, how you show up on social platforms, and even how your office is set up all play into your image and your story.  That’s a lot to think about – to make this kind of commitment to yourself you have to know why this is important.

So why is it important?

I find that I tend to go back to “if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.” Here’s one way to look at it. People are confused about you. You’re confused about you. When it comes to making decisions about your career, you’re not sure if you should go this way or that way. Decisions for your career can take longer, worse yet, these decisions may not be made at all. And when there’s a new opportunity, there is nothing to distinguish you from others so you look like everyone else.

Imagine a line of penguins. Which one are you? Do you know what kind of leader you want to be? Are you showing up that way? Do you find yourself feeling like ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’? Most leaders never have time to stop and think about this. But, the answers to these questions that are required to design a powerful brand can have a profound impact on where your career actually goes. What I do as part of my role is support CIOs and senior IT professionals as they seek to find answers and discover themselves through individual conversations and small group coaching. The intention is always to support them in leading authentically, becoming more than a job title, and harnessing the qualities that make them unique!


Stay tuned for part 2 where I outline some exercises, recommended resources and tips to help you answer these questions and build out your ideal brand.

View Part 2