Alumnus shares 3 steps to personal branding

Friday, February 17, 2017

By: Scott Lieberman '12
(Originally published in the Charlotte Business Journal)

I was honored to participate on the #NextGenCLT panel, which focused on effective personal branding. This is a topic which means a lot to me, not just because part of my full-time job revolves around it, but because of what personal branding has been able to do for me.

In my rather short professional career, I pivoted and changed my personal brand, as well as my career path, all the while working at the same company throughout the process. I started at my company as a shy intern who did what he was told and have evolved into an idea generator who isn’t afraid to speak up and share my opinion.

This growth was initially helpful, but I quickly realized that while some people appreciated this “new me”, some did not - and labeled me for it. After receiving some constructive feedback from others, I realized that a balance was needed. Being quiet wasn’t getting me where I wanted to go, while being brash was hurting my reputation. Coming to this realization is when I really started focusing on asking myself, “What do I want to be known for?” Everyone can impact their personal brand by putting to use the 3 descriptor test.

Step 1: Think of 3 words you would want others to use to describe you.

Step 2: Then ask a few people in your network (colleagues, friends, family) that you know will shoot it to you straight, what are 3 words they would use to describe you?

Step 3: From that, you can now start working towards your goal by seeing where there might be gaps.

The three words I started with were creative, fun, and hustle (always getting things done). I was focusing on my personal brand at work so I asked 4 colleagues that I trusted who would give me honest feedback (a peer, a mentor, a teammate and my manager). Unfortunately, my initial results weren’t exactly what I expected. Although the majority felt I was fun and creative, hustle didn’t really come to mind when they thought of Scott Lieberman. Words like brash, arrogant and exclusive came up and those clearly weren’t what I was going for, but apparently was what I was projecting.

Although this was a tough pill to swallow there was two very positive results from this. Number 1, I was accomplishing 2 of my 3 goals (creative and fun) and number 2, I found out what wasn’t working, so I needed to pivot again. What I asked for from them were specific examples of why they chose each word, which gave me situations to be aware of in the future. Then, I created a personal development plan of how I would move from brash to hustle over the course of the year. I also made sure to follow up with the group, to let them know what my development plan was and continue to ask them if they saw a change.

Over the course of the year I was able to get the results I was seeking. The change positively impacted my career and enabled me to get promoted. My conscious effort to change my personal brand led to my current role, and my shift from Information Technology to Human Resources. This career progression has given me the opportunity to reevaluate what my personal brand is and where I want it to be.

The key thing to remember is just like any great company your brand is always evolving and changing. You just need to be aware of where you are and where you want to be to continue to grow accordingly.

Scott Lieberman is a graduate of the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte. Scott Lieberman is a human resources professional at TIAA. He received his B.S.B.A. in Management in 2012 from UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business and serves on the Belk College Alumni Council.

The Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte is the academic partner of #NextGenCLT. The Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte is North Carolina’s urban research business school. Accredited by AACSB International, the Belk College of Business offers business education programs at the undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and executive levels. Find out more at