1. Own your uniqueness
If you really want to stand out, don’t try to mold yourself into a corporate cookie cutter. Instead, recognize what makes you different, whether it’s a cross-cultural background, a passionate knowledge of a particular hobby, or a career switch that’s given you insight into multiple fields. That perspective enables you to see the world differently and offer valuable insights.
2. Leverage your affiliations
One of the most powerful forces in psychology is social proof – the tendency for people to look for external cues to gauge how they should react to something. If you can surround yourself with forms of social proof – whether it’s having gone to a noteworthy college, having worked for a blue-chip firm, or even having a wide variety of recommendations written about you on LinkedIn – it’s likely that others will take note and evaluate you positively.
3. Pick a cause
Getting involved with a charity isn’t just a nice thing to do. It’s also a fantastic way to develop professional skills (because when you’re volunteering, you have the ability to take more chances and try new things) and build strong relationships (because you’re connecting with influential people over shared values). If you really commit, the charity becomes part of your personal brand, and an integral part of how others know you. That’s how you can create a powerful network and a professional reputation that precedes you.
4. Expand your network
Every professional has people they’d like to meet but who don’t currently seem attainable. Emailing with a standard ask for coffee or to “pick their brain” probably won’t cut it. But there’s a surprising strategy Dorie describes in Stand Out – namely, that blog or podcast interviews can be a form of networking. A busy leader might hesitate to spend an hour giving a stranger one-on-one advice, but if she knows you’re going to share those insights with thousands of other people, the value proposition changes and you’re much more likely to get a yes.
5. Create content
Sharing your ideas publicly is one of the best ways to stand out. As “knowledge workers,” it’s very hard for potential employers to evaluate what you know and how well you do your job. So make it visible for them by writing down your ideas on a LinkedIn blog or elsewhere. If you don’t feel like you’re much of a writer, podcasts or videos also work well – the point is to create content, regardless of the channel. If you can provide a unique perspective about trends in your industry, a how-to for common challenges, or overturn misconceptions, you’re doing the world – and your personal brand – a great service.