You probably need Kaplan Mobray’s advice more than you even realize.
The internet and social media have not only made it possible for individuals to create personal brands; they’ve made it essential.
Mobray, the closing keynote speaker at the upcoming ASCE 2017 Convention in New Orleans and bestselling author of The 10Ks of Personal Branding, recently shared his wisdom about personal branding with ASCE News, helping civil engineers take ownership of their own narrative.
ASCE News: How do you define personal brand?
Kaplan Mobray: “Your personal brand is essentially what you’re known for.
“When you’re going for a job opportunity, when your reputation is on the line to help you and your career advance, it really all comes down to what you’re known for. What are people saying about you when you’re not in the room? And how does that answer shape people’s response to you?
“So at the core, it’s really what you’re known for. And personal branding is the proactive, deliberate nature of shaping what you’re known for.”
ASCE News: So, for anyone, but specifically civil engineers, how do you go about proactively, consciously trying to establish that personal brand?
Mobray: “For a civil engineer, or really people in any profession, when you go about building your brand, it’s about:
“One, understanding what are the attributes that you have intrinsically? What is the talent or skill you bring to your industry, to your company?
“Two, it’s about an assessment of what the attributes are that you want to be known for. ‘This is me. I’m a civil engineer with great insight; or I’m a civil engineer who is very responsible; or I have a very creative lens on how to orchestrate a plan.’
“So those attributes shape your brand. And you need to be deliberate, letting people know the attributes you want to be known for, rather than letting it kind of be tagged on you by chance.”
ASCE News: Today with social media, there’s a whole lot of information you can get out about yourself and maybe some that you shouldn’t put out there – so how do you recommend blending the personal with the professional when it comes to branding?
Mobray: “Social media has transformed the landscape of how an individual is known and how an individual brands him- or herself.
“I always advocate that your online brand and your offline brand be consistent. We’re in an age where people meet you before they meet you. So it is fair game. What you have on your social media posts – even in your personal life – the things you do, the things you’re interested in, the things you say, opinions you support, the pictures, the posts, everything is fair game to give someone an assessment of who you are and the credibility you bring into your professional ranks.
“People used to say, ‘Well, my LinkedIn is for my professional, so I can be professional there and less professional on Facebook or another channel.’ But the reality is, consistency drives your ability to be known. And you never know where someone is going to get their first impression of you. So it’s important to be consistent.
“In this day and age, it starts with having an assessment of what is it that I really want to be known for? And what are those attributes that will really help me propel my career? And how do those attributes show up in any way that people can encounter me?
“So if they show up on LinkedIn it’s, ‘I’m a member of ASCE, or I attend this convention, or I joined a particular forum. Or I want to be known as very creative, so my Facebook posts and pictures are creative. Or my Twitter posts are very sharp; I have keen insight.’
“The point is finding the consistent narrative that you want to share, and merchandising that narrative across social media allows you to then champion your brand and own that brand.”
ASCE News: So what about specific things like sharing political opinions online or maybe getting a tattoo or a piercing?
Mobray: “I get that question a lot, in terms of how do I be my own authentic self but also make sure I’m credible in my industry. I know I’ve got other interests that are part of me and help me to do my job better, but they may or may not be seen as favorable to my brand in certain environments.
“We’re in an age of individuality and what I call the ‘Selfie Generation,’ where people are authentically putting themselves out there. What I advocate as an expert in personal branding is to really own the narrative.
“If you’ve got a tattoo, and that tattoo is your spark of creativity, your spark of insight, and each day you look at that tattoo it gives you that inspiration to do your job better, to be a keener engineer, then own that. Control the narrative around the tattoo. Then people will look at it as an authentic part of your brand. It’s communicating the best of who you are, as opposed to just ‘Oh, that person has a tattoo.’
“I believe you have to own the narrative, because there will be a narrative with the way we are transformed through social media. So there will be a narrative, the question is: Do you own your narrative, or has your narrative already taken off without your authorship?”