When you search for “Personal Branding” in Google or Bing (first Microsoftie rule – don´t forget Bing ;-)) you find a huge amount of information about this topic. Especially in today’s world, it becomes more and more popular, that people discuss how to make yourself a brand, how to stand out and demonstrate your unique side. I decided to write about my own experiences on this topic because I want to share all my tips and thoughts with you. During the last years – 1 year at BMW; 2 years at IBM and currently more than 2,5 years at Microsoft – I experienced how to get a voice in a huge global company. Especially in such big companies, you tend to get lost and be a number. That´s why it’s so important to show the people around you what makes you personally unique and what are your personal skills – because everybody has something that makes him or her stand out from the mass. You just have to be brave enough to show it! My tips and recommendations are coming from my own experiences as I mentioned, it´s not something that I got from a scientific source – it´s something that I created by my own and wanted to share with you because for me it personally works.
Before we dive in my story, here I summarized the 3 main components that helped me to build a brand, and will help you too:
I will explain to you every component based on my story. So let´s start… When I started at Microsoft 2,5 years ago, I had one big challenge right in the beginning, but I turned this one into a chance which was the base for my “Brand”. So the situation was following: after 1 week joining the company, my Manager told me that I have to present the Modern Workplace Solutions, that we have in our Portfolio at Microsoft, to the C-Level of a big international customer from the automotive industry. My speaker slot was 1 hour and the target group/audience were around 50 managers and board members. So you can imagine how I felt at this moment – I had no clue about the solutions (never mind the technical Knowledge) – and now I had to present 1 hour. My presentations before were a maximum of 30 minutes of my Masterthesis at university – but I was an expert on the topic I had to present. But I knew I had to find a solution and I had to do it in the smartest way. In huge companies, you always have final standard slides for presentation – for the main topics and solutions. So, of course, there were final ready pitch desks (with over 60 slides – sounds already exciting :-)) you can use for your client meetings. But my first thought was – ok, there are so many people who could present these slides much better than me, because of their experiences and their background. I could never do it the way they will do it when using these slides – because they are not created by me and not the way I would personally do it.
Because of this and the fact that at this point of time I was not able to go deep into these topics. My solution was to do it totally my way – So BE AUTHENTIC. I am from a super creative family and drawing/visualizing was always something I loved. Also storytelling was totally my thing – so why not creating a super easy story and draw it by my own (with the help of the surface devices) and present it the way my grandmother would understand what Microsoft is actually doing;-) So I created my superhero: Max, who was my comic figure and who jumped into different roles (CIO, Sales Manager, HR employee, etc.). I designed a story with different scenarios from Max´s daily business life, to demonstrate how easy and efficient his daily life would be if he would use Microsoft products. So to individualize this day to the customer, I collected information about how the current working day in their company looks like and with this insides, I had the chance to create it super individualized presentation.
To be honest, when the presentation was ready, it was a risk for me to go into this meeting where experienced managers are sitting, who always have a critical attitude towards cloud solutions and then in combination with a young girl who just started at Microsoft – not a super easy situation for me at this time. And my thoughts were, either they can say this looks like kindergarten with my comics or they will love it because I was able to reduce the whole complexity into simple visualizations. Further, they could understand the solution and they could identify themselves with my “Max” because I showed them concretely how the result would look like. So this was definitely the BE BRAVE part of my story. And the result was: everybody loved my presentation style, loved Max and for me, it was a huge step forward, also internally. After this presentation, so many people reached out to me, because they heard about my storytelling presentations and after just 2 weeks at Microsoft I had
I gathered this chance that was given to me at this moment – and here is the third main building block for Personal Branding – BE LOUD. It sounds negative at the beginning, but with be loud I mean promote yourself, tell people and demonstrate them your results and achievements. It´s so important – because only then they will hear your message. So I took the chances to present at a lot of events, client meetings
So what I want to give you like advice from the bottom of my heart, to summarize it, is that you have to be authentic and do the things in YOUR personal and unique way. Be brave to do this – it will work believe me. And be loud, speak about it, promote your work and your way of doing things. I hope I could give you some motivation with my story and that you show the people out there what´s inside you and which great talents you personally have.