This post is a guest blog post by Susan Peppercorn of Positive Workplace Partners.

“Your personal brand is your promise of value to the world, and your commitment to deliver distinctively with every skill developed and talents you have been gifted with.” ― Bernard Kelvin Clive.

In a recent talk I gave to eighty scientists at a pharmaceutical company, I asked, “How many of you think your accomplishments should speak for themselves?” 85% of the hands went up. Then I asked, “How many of you think that personal branding is a necessary evil”? This time, 95% of the audience raised their hands.

Success at work requires that we take control of our professional image. Your personal brand or your professional reputation has a direct impact on your career; the way you are perceived is how you will be defined. The best way of changing or influencing your reputation is by being aware of the perception others have of you and taking assertive steps to manage it.

Your personal brand is the story people think of when they hear your name.

“Creative problem-solver.” “Make it happen person.” “Highly collaborative – I’d work with her anytime.” “He’s always ready to help a new hire.” “I’ve seen and respect his work on several papers.”

How do you create your brand?

As much as we hope our managers will let others know about our contributions and skills, the fact remains that some are better at advocating for their employees than others. And, many are too busy to give it much thought.  It’s up to you to manage your career goals and let others know about them. Here are some recommendations:

  • Define your destination

Know where you want to go in your career and find out how to get there. If you’re a bench scientist, who wants to move to the business side, see if you can shadow someone in regulatory affairs or program management or seek out a mentor who can guide you.

  • Know your audience

Branding is not one-size-fits-all. It requires recognizing the needs of your target audience and emphasizing the accomplishments and skills that you can leverage to help the person, department or organizations move forward.

  •  Translate your skills to benefits

What’s your unique selling proposition? That’s what people will remember, and you can use it to your advantage. Recently I saw Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, discuss astrophysics on the popular television show, 60 Minutes. His enthusiasm for science and ability to communicate in ways that a mere mortal could understand mesmerized me. What are you passionate about and how can you communicate it to gain the attention of your audience?

  • Develop Your Narrative

You have a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry, transitioned to industry and are now in school for a certification in regulatory affairs. It’s natural to have different interests, to seek new experiences, and develop new skills. So as not to give the impression that you jumped around without a serious commitment to a particular endeavor, you need to develop a coherent narrative that explains exactly how your past fits into your present.

  • Don’t Keep Your Expertise a Secret

Recently a coaching client told me that he hoped to be given more opportunity for recognition in his next job. Scientists, you have many opportunities for visibility! Are you asking for the chance to publish or present what you know at work? Social media offers many opportunities to communicate your passion to a wider audience and gain confidence at the same time.

The only one in charge of your career is you. Here are some questions to think about as you craft your unique value proposition.

  •  What differentiates you?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What value can you bring to others?

For more ideas from Susan on how to develop an effective personal brand click here, or follow Susan at – @susanpeppercorn on Twitter.

(Thanks, Susan, for the great tips! ~ Kathy)