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The importance of your personal brand in procurement

We all know the importance of building a strong business brand and the benefits that will bring, but many do not understand the value of their own personal brand.

Here is a quick test. If you asked 10 people in your organisation to anonymously write three words to describe you and your management style, what do you think would be the most common words you would get back?

We all like to think we are hard working, committed, tenacious, smart, professional and so on. However, is this how your peers and subordinates actually see you and your brand?

I first did this test a number of years ago and got feedback from my peers involving replies such as: gets results, strong negotiator, strong willed and professional. But I also got some replies I wasn’t expecting: prickly, stubborn and cold.

This had a profound effect on me and ever since, I have put a real strong focus on building my brand. And when I last completed this exercise, I was pleased all of the old negatives had vanished and had been replaced by replies I had worked hard on improving – friendly, helpful, down-to-earth, as well as the core aptitudes I need for my profession.

Another key way to build your brand is to get your successes to stick to you. Getting people to recognise “Jim, he is the guy that improved efficiencies within his team by 20 percent”, or “ask Jane to join the project team, she brought the last project in early and within budget”.

You will need to work on some self-marketing which some people may find uncomfortable doing.

You can also utilise your brand outside of work. It is a great way to making new friends and improving your relationships. The benefits of developing a strong personal brand include:

  • Becoming ‘known’ within the business for the right reasons
  • It’s easier to gain recognition with the business
  • Career progression
  • Building better relationships in and out of work

Sales and Marketing departments are full of brand experts, they are well trained and know how to build and promote not only the company brand but also their individual brand. You cannot look at the business section of an airport bookshop without being bamboozled by the sheer number of expert sales and marketing professionals selling concepts and techniques on the backing of their individual branding.

The old marketing saying goes – you can have the best product in the world but if nobody knows about it then you aren’t going to sell any. The same will apply for many a procurement professional, you could have made multi-million dollar cost savings and transformed your supply chain, but if the right people don’t know about it you are not going to gain the recognition this deserves or the step up the ladder.

You can bet if the top sales person in your organisation lands a major deal everybody will know about this, and more often than not the top sales person normally moves into the top positions within organisations.

Fellow procurement professionals let us start to build our own personal branding, from the bottom up we can help not only improve our own careers but also help grow and strengthen the procurement brand. There was a procurement phrase going around not too long ago – “bringing procurement from the back room to the boardroom”, this is only going to happen if we all start to build and strengthen our brands.

Key steps to building your brand:

1. Smile, be a confident, professional and friendly person, be the go-to person that stakeholders come to with new projects. You know how much you hate working with difficult people, so make sure you are not one of them.

2. Be positive. This positivity will rub off on the people and projects you interact with on a daily basis. Positivity will help drive results. Negativity won’t help you progress in your career.

3. Grow your knowledge and skill set. If someone in your organisation thinks procurement or supply chain, make sure you are the picture that comes into their mind. If somebody wants to know what is happening in the market place let you be the first name that comes out of their mouth. If somebody is struggling in a negotiation let it be you that they come to for advice.

4. Build up your key network. Your boss may think you are a great employee that brings in the results but is that what your peers believe. Don’t be the mystery  person, be the person who people know and say good morning to. Build these relationships up into key alliances. When you do get that big promotion you will need the backing of as many people in the organisation as possible to help drive the improvements and changes you put forward.

5. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. Start your own projects and improvements, be an ideas generator not just a process follower. Now you have the ear of the business make sure you fill it with good ideas and objectives and not just hot air.

6. Once you have your brand in place now is the time to market it. Produce procurement newsletters, intranet pages and KPI dashboards showing what a great job is being done to drive improvements within the organisation.

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James Williams

James Williams

James Williams is a Procurement Specialist and Partner of Optimus Business Solutions in Canberra. Optimus Business Solutions are a boutique business consultancy that specialise in growing the profit for SME’s through procurement, management accountancy and data analysis.

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