Five Impactful Tips on Building a Personal Brand From a (Former) Management Consultant
I spent 7+ years in management consulting working for two of the four big firms (Deloitte and EY). And comparing my time in management consulting with my time in the industry or even in the public sector, I know how invaluable the experience is. First and foremost, the lessons I learned in branding have helped me launch a successful career no matter what industry or company I work for — and I want to share those quick tips with you.
- Starting out or reinventing yourself? My advice is to do good work, on time, and exceed or at least meet quality expectations. You don’t need knowledge about the work, or experience doing the work in the past, to do a good job.
- While doing good work on projects, note down things you like, but especially note down things you DON’T like. Knowing what you don’t like or are not good at can be more helpful and easier than trying to figure ou what you do like or want to be good at.
- When I first joined management consulting, one of the partners talked about the importance of having a personal brand. A personal brand helps you get work (or be employed if you’re a contractor / self-employed). It helps you get onto projects. It gives you some credibility if you accidentally make a mistake. And the best personal brands is the intersection of a Venn diagram: one circle is things you are good at (skills, projects, industries, sectors) and the other circle is what the market wants (the problems customers want solved).
- Everybody is one project away from being an expert. We used to joke in management consulting that completing one project, well (see point 1), made you an expert. Do one project developing an IT Strategy for a company? Now you’re the IT Strategy expert. Do one project designing a dog park for the municipal government? You’re a city planning expert. Although you can’t be an expert from completing one project, the stories we would weave with our projects were phenomenal.
- If you have years of experience and you don’t know what you are an expert in, list out all of the projects you have completed, and then list out all the characteristics of those projects. For example, was it a technology project? Was the project in specific industries or sectors? Was there a specific problem you were solving on the project? Say you have 7 years of working experience and someone asked you to summarize by saying “I’m an expert in X as I have 7 years of experience” — what would the X be? A great book to help weave this story for you is Pamela Slim’s Body of Work
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