How to Build Your Personal Brand

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--By ANA Career Center Staff - December 2014

Whether you’re a seasoned nurse or you’re just starting your first nursing position, establishing expertise and credibility is a vital part of building your professional reputation or personal brand. It takes time and patience to build a strong personal brand, but it’s worth doing.

There are several reasons it’s worth the effort to build a personal brand, says Terri Gaffney, MPA, RN. One important reason is personal satisfaction. “By becoming a credible, knowledgeable source for your peers, you enhance your professional image. As a result, you become a go-to person.” You may then be invited to sit on policymaking boards or to present at conferences.

The work you do also helps build your employer’s reputation and the already respected reputation of nurses in general. Nurses are trusted health care professionals, Gaffney says, and are recognized leaders. Yet nurses hesitate to highlight their successes. “Don’t be afraid to submit an abstract to share your work at a local, state or national conference. It raises your professional visibility as well as that of the facility.

Writing and speaking are excellent ways to differentiate yourself from others. “We are a powerhouse -- but we don’t harness all the power we could unless we build a personal brand.”

5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand

Set goals for yourself as you begin to look at ways to build your personal brand. For example, gaining recognition in a particular topic may help you advance your career as you become regarded as a leader. Being appointed to a board or policy-making body may help you influence advances in the profession. Having goals that build your career and advance the profession can help you define success and decide what steps to take.

If you’d like to work on building your personal brand, but aren’t sure how to start, these suggestions from people who have already done so can help.

Identify Your Professional Expertise

Look at your accomplishments and interests to identify the contributions you’ve made or can make to other nurses and the profession itself. What are your unique gifts and skills? Whether you’ve created an innovative process that enhances patient care at your hospital or have a knack for collaboration and influencing your peers, consider what you already offer to your organization or the profession and think about how you can build on those skills to achieve your goals.

Aggregate Your Work

Now that you’ve focused on what makes you shine, find ways to assemble examples of situations where you’ve put your skills into action. Develop a portfolio or website with links to your work and information about yourself, recommends Nick Angelis, MSN, CRNA, author of “How to Succeed in Anesthesia School.” Having everything in one place makes it easier to show others what you’re interested in and how your background and experience will help you take the next step.

Connect With Like-Minded Colleagues

No matter where you are, when you see an opportunity to share your ideas, take it. You may find someone who can help you with research or get the word out about your work. For example, if you are at a conference or an event and encounter nurses with similar interests, you can all cooperate to spread the word throughout your respective facilities. Nurses are also taking advantage of social media communities, such as using LinkedIn to connect and share information and advance the profession.

Publish Clinical Research

The only way your work will affect others is if you share it, so boost your research’s impact by getting it published. Evidence based practice (EBP) is a core competence of all registered nurses. Many nurses are involved in EBP projects integrating the best scientific evidence with the best experiential evidence. Publishing your outcomes is a great way to share your knowledge and experience and advance nursing. Choose an appropriate journal for your work and practice, and also consider publishing in cross-disciplinary journals to reach other health care professionals.

Nurse Sarah Dawkins published articles in professional journals to get the word out about different processes and highlight presentations she has made. She promotes her work to a wider audience by assembling her articles on her website and using social media to connect with others.

Speak at Conferences

One of the simplest ways to get some experience speaking at nursing and health care conferences is to be a poster presenter, Gaffney says. Doing a poster presentation at local, state or national conferences can be a little less stressful than a full-fledged speaking engagement, she says. “It’s a good way to get out there and begin discussing your work with other nurses and be seen as an expert in the field.” As you continue to gain credibility, organizations may approach you to share your knowledge in a specific area.