Early in my career at a top Management Consulting Firm in New York my Senior Manager had asked me a question…”what is your brand, Priyanka”….that question had left me stumped! a) I had no idea what he was talking about; b) I always thought that when you do good work you get noticed for your work.  The idea of managing your image and shaping a perception had never crossed my mind.

Through that experience I had learnt a valuable lesson…don’t assume anything.  Don’t assume that your manager, your colleagues or the people who report to you know the good work that you are doing.  Like politicians, one has to learn to manage not only one’s career but also manage perceptions and create an image of how you would like to be perceived by others.

Lesson No. 1: What matters is not so much what you do or have done, but what other people think you have accomplished.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean to say that you should ‘sound’ more than you ‘do’….but it is important to articulate what you have done.  Otherwise, people do have short-term memories and they tend to forget.  Which means, that you need to manage your image as well as your real job.

Lesson No. 2: Don’t assume that people know what you are working on; take every opportunity to educate others.  Making sure that you share the right and credible information can be a powerful tool in shaping your profile in the workplace.

Lesson No. 3: Have an elevator speech ready about yourself and what you do and perfect it to a fine art by continuous practice.  So that when you meet someone and you have that 30 seconds to make that first impression, you have it nailed!

It is important to manage your perceptions early in your career – research shows that people tend to assimilate new information in consistent ways with their initial perceptions.  The most important time to build on managing and creating an image for yourself and how you want to be known in your work place is right at the beginning.  Start on the positive note by doing a good job and keep in mind how you want to be recognized by your colleagues in your organization – do you want to be known as a subject matter expert on a topic, or do you want to be known as a generalist champion or do you want to be known as the ‘go-to’ guy in your group.  Think about the image you want to project and the brand you want to develop for yourself and meticulously start working on it right from Day 1.

And remember, that image management is a work-in-progress.  Like looking at the mirror you need to continue to improvise as you go!

As always let me know your thoughts and comments.