Brand Yourself as a High Potential


You might argue — but it is my opinion that you cannot expect to walk through the office door a virtuoso.

Whether you are new to the workplace or simply changing direction, it takes a bit of time to establish your reputation and set yourself apart from the crowd. This is perfectly fine — as good things can come with patience. It’s not a sprint to climb the staircase of success, it is definitely a “steady and paced” endeavor.

Tom Peter’s classic article, The Brand Called You, emphasized the importance of developing your own career brand in our fast-paced world of work — and I fully agree with his premise. Standing out in a sea of competition can be daunting, and branding is a savvy option to consider. You are your own brand — and you alone have the control to develop that brand wisely.

Keeping your nose to the grindstone is a great place to start. However, a solid “brand” strategy is even better. You need to set a projected path and make the most of every interaction. Whatever you are doing, make a commitment to do it well — no matter what the task. Ultimately, it is your behavior that will identify you as something extraordinary.

What will you be adding to the workplace equation? Strive to be unique. Be remarkable. Be courageous. Make a solid commitment that your actions (and your attitude) mesh with the brand of a “high potential” contributor.

A few ideas. Try a couple of them to start:

  • Start listening and talk less. Brand yourself as a strategic listener  — a critical workplace skill. Key here, is having the smarts to stay quiet and absorb the knowledge that is around you. Grow this way, as this can serve you well.
  • Underscore you strengths. Brand your strengths. What are the 2 or 3 areas of expertise that comprise your core value to an organization? Be sure you can speak to these. In fact, develop an elevator pitch explaining your brand — just in case someone directly poses this question. Always be ready to tell your strategic story.
  • Be mindful of an “Achilles heel.” Your weaknesses can hold you back, so be sure to identify these early on — and brand yourself as someone who is self-aware. It may not be the most pleasant of tasks to consider, but tackling impediments head on, can help catapult your career forward.
  • Be the link. Moving forward in an organization requires a broader focus today, so brand yourself as the “link”. How does your function (and your specific role) contribute to the success of your organization? Be sure you understand these connections and educate others about them.
  • Read more. Brand yourself as an expert. There are great sites, blogs and book titles to help you get a strong grip on your specific industry. For starters — find out what your boss is reading. Develop talking points that engage others and encourage progress.
  • Find mentors and a sponsor. Navigating the world of work can be a challenge — and seeking different perspectives can be a huge advantage. Don’t limit yourself to one mentor, build a set of them and brand yourself as a life-long learner. Don’t overlook the need for an internal sponsor, someone to help you gain exposure and key “stretch assignments”.
  • Raise your hand for projects that everyone is avoiding. Brand yourself as a team player. Remember that the tougher the assignment, the more you’ll stand to learn.
  • Learn to collaborate. Brand yourself as someone who gets things done. Gather information about how decisions are made. Be aware of the respective contributions of other teams in varying functions. Help to create an atmosphere of creativity and innovation.
  • Chart a self-improvement course. Brand yourself as a “self-starter”. Don’t wait for others to suggest training and development opportunities — always have a list on your radar. Stay alert for development opportunities that will make an impact on your career path and prepare you for the next steps. Don’t ignore the basics (presentation skills, for example), as they are career building blocks.

Do you have a strategy to build your own brand? Share your ideas here.

A version of this post previously appeared at Talent Zoo

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist located in East Lansing, Michigan. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

26 thoughts on “Brand Yourself as a High Potential

  1. great post Dr. Marla.
    Being self-aware at every instant of your career is the most important thing -I believe in. It always keeps you in the track and let you see your goals clearly. You can easily decide what will help you get ahead in your track.

    Connecting is one really very important thing – I am sure you won’t disagree with me.


  2. Thank you for the article. I enjoyed it. I was hoping to see more on creating one’s brand. In the absence of other reader advice, do you have any suggestions or strategies you personally embrace?


  3. Golden words penned by author. At the time of reading this article i felt i am in intrapersonal communication taken place. yess.., i am in the position escalating my company promotion within my mind box. i engaged my mind in cooking of ideas and innovative way to attract public and gain clients attention


  4. Thank you for your comments. I trust my readers to “flesh” out my ideas and bring attention to any weaknesses or potential additions.

    Of course, these points are starters and require “vetting” to apply them to your own work life situation.

    Your points are well-taken.


  5. Funnily enough, I was just thinking about the issue “Anonymous” raised in July, prior to arriving at his/her comment. This was prompted by two of your points: a) Read more (to become an expert) and b) Raise your hand to the projects no one else wants.

    One thing to bear in mind, I’ve found, is the concept of top-of-mind awareness. We know that people love to categorize or pigeon-hole others. It helps with rapid decision-making if you know that Ms. X has a particular expertise you can call upon…but becoming too well-known for that can inhibit others’ thinking about you.

    Just as an example, take the person you just met at the PTA who you rely on to give you the low-down on great restaurants and bars to visit in your community. You have their business card but all you ever think about when you hear their name is the great meal you just had, based on their recommendation. Their biz card states that they’re a realtor. You never associate the fact that they would know so much about restaurants etc. because its part of their professional expertise. So, would you necessarily pick up the phone and call them when you’re ready to sell your house? That’s questionable because the expertise you’ve associated them with isn’t directly connected (in your mind) with the new professional service you’re looking for.

    So I would add two caveats to your extremely comprehensive and helpful list, Marla. 1) Read broadly and deeply but take the time to think carefully about what expertise you want to be known for. It’s extremely difficult to keep shifting your reputation from one to another without folks thinking you’re a jack of all trades and master of none. One service you can do yourself and others, when branding, is to illuminate the connections between the different pieces of knowledge and wisdom you have. For our realtor, for example, they would have been better served by always saying, “Yes, well, I know so much about these great restaurants because it’s part of the service I offer my clients when I help them buy or sell their homes.”

    2) Certainly you can make a name for yourself and carve out a reputation by offering to take on projects that others are avoiding — but only if they are in line with your longer-term vision of what you want to be known for. As you point out, Marla, branding yourself is a strategic decision and needs to be carefully thought out so that, incrementally, you are moving toward the reputation and really “own” the niche market you seek.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very good article. Thank You Dr Gottschalk. I very much associate my self with “The Link” #3, and #6. as well as #1. Listening is one of the most important skills one can learn.Many thanks for your inspiration as I am just working on branding my self properly.


  7. I think these are great suggestions and they led me to wonder what advice you’d give to someone seeking to “unbrand” themselves.

    I’ve worked with employees over the years who have been challenged to overcome a less desirable brand – short of leaving to make a fresh start, do you have suggestions for managers (or those employees) who want to coach someone on overcoming negative past experiences?


  8. Thank you Dr. Marla Gottschalk for sharing such great advice. You inspire me to do more in order for me to help myself so that i can assist others.

    I didn’t realize I have been doing all of the above for many years; both at work and personally. After reading this article; I feel confident now ongoing forward with my future.


  9. Thank you Dr. Marla Gottschalk for sharing such great advice. You inspire me to do more in order for me to help myself so that i can assist others.


  10. of course like your website but you need to test the spelling on quite
    a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues
    and I to find it very troublesome to inform the truth nevertheless I
    will definitely come back again.


  11. kindly see my presentation on the SlideShare about Leadership and Management-Essential Skills for Public Servants-2.There are so many tips to become a leader and create your brand/image.However I believe technical and professional competency coupled with the volunteering(raising the hand) are the two most important skills for branding oneself as a high potential


  12. I would actually add one more that has worked for me; help the people around you develop their skills and find their strengths. And keep your eyes open for talented people who you can help step up. Having collegues and associates who are loyal to you will have an enormous effect on your success (and times that you find that you need help), and people are far more likely to show you loyalty when they know you have helped them. Besides, it’s a great feeling seeing someone doing well years later and knowing that you helped get them to where they are.


  13. Many obvious points worth focusing on. I agree that being the link is crucial. You can only do that if you have good organizational awareness and a proven track record as collaborator. You have to keep abreast with new learning too. No excuse for holding on to outdated models and knowledge acquired in the past. It also requires the ability to read other people’s states and to develop your emotional intelligence that will guide you in choosing the most appropriate behaviours.


  14. Thank you. This is a great post and is in line any plan to Make A New Years Resolution That Sticks.

    I learned the hard way early in my career that caution needs to be taken with suggestion # 6 which is Raise your hand for projects that everyone is avoiding.

    The challenge: Don’t over extend yourself – keep your primary focus on your main job objectives… then fill in spare time with additional projects that will further your career.

    Liked by 1 person

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