Why your staff needs a personal branding plan too

Picture of Rich Grief

By MMP Director of Marketing & Public Awareness Rich Greif

Raising the profile of a nonprofit’s CEO and senior leaders is vital to strengthening an organization’s brand and positioning its expertise in a range of social issues. Slowly but surely, nonprofit leaders are going beyond traditional methods like public speaking and media opportunities and engaging their current and potential stakeholders through social media, blogging, videos, online chats, op-eds and other tools. Complementing your organization’s communications efforts with targeted outreach by senior leaders adds a human voice to your interaction with stakeholders while also building the personal brand and credibility of your leaders. But what about the rest of your staff? Shouldn’t their voice, expertise and connection to different networks and organizations be leveraged too? And shouldn’t nonprofits be developing future leaders by encouraging their employees to think strategically about their personal brand?

Word Art about building a personal brand

Whether we realize it or not, we all have a personal brand. How you are perceived by your co-workers, colleagues and other external audiences is a reflection of how you act in person, on the phone, via email and other writing, on social media, in your communications at meetings and events, etc.. The question is whether you are intentionally working to build your profile to uniquely define and shape who you are, what you bring to the table and why it matters. Like any good product or service, it takes time, effort and commitment to develop and sustain a strong brand.

So how can nonprofits help staff build their brand? At Mass Mentoring, we’re asking all staff across the organization this year to develop a personal branding plan with specific activities they will do throughout the year to raise their profile. We recognize not all staff want to be public speakers or are active on social media, but there are still lots of ways you can build your brand online or offline. Here are some examples we shared with staff:

  • Share Mass Mentoring/mentoring field content or content related to your area of expertise on social media or other relevant sites
  • Write a blog or news article for us or other organizations on your area of expertise
  • Comment on relevant new articles related to mentoring or your area of expertise
  • Speak or present at a meeting (internal or external) or at an event/meeting/class in mentoring or a relevant field
  • Attend networking or other relevant events
  • Become a member in an organization in your field
  • Send an alumni update to your college alumni publication about the work you are doing
  • Serve on a nonprofit board, committee or other volunteer opportunity
  • Improve your online professional presence (i.e. your LinkedIn profile)

These are just examples and we encouraged staff to incorporate these and other ideas into their plan. The only caveat we gave is that these need to be new activities this year.

We often take for granted that the work we do takes place in one context (i.e. a project, meeting, training, webinar, event, etc.) and that what we’ve read, seen or learned could be of value to others. We hope that by encouraging staff to share their expertise, get engaged in the community and improve their public profile, we will not only be developing future leaders in the nonprofit world, but in turn, we’ll be strengthening our brand and what it means to us to lead a mentoring movement.

How about you? What is your organization doing to help raise the profile of its staff? We’d love to hear examples that we can share with our staff.