VET, Learning and Development, and Personal Branding

I was prompted to thinking about the power of personal brand last week, when I was part of a discussion around the issue of training providers, and in particular RTOs using, or relying on the credentials of  people who no longer worked there (or in some cases had never worked there) in order to meet audit requirements among other things.  The discussion got me thinking about the role of personal branding for VET and L&D professionals, how developing a strong personal brand can help not only to enhance your personal opportunities but also the stature and reputation of those organisations you work and protection a strong personal brand offers from the misuse of personal credentials by employers.

I sat on a panel about personal branding, with two of the best people in L&D, namely Ryan Tracey (Ryan2point0) and Natalie Goldman (Flex Careers), a couple of years ago and I was shocked that there were so many people in the VET and L&D sectors who didn’t realise the value of developing a strong personal brand, particularly where that brand can be built and maintained in conjunction with links to strong organisational branding as well.  Unfortunately I think that a lot of people view personal branding as, simply,  a way to gain more, or better employment.  This then for people who are in roles they like with organisations that value them, tends I think to lead them to the conclusion that personal branding is not something that they really need to spend too much time considering.  Unfortunately this view only considers the range of other advantages and interesting side benefits which can occur when you develop your own personal brand.

One of the problems which can occur, and which I have seen happen to a number of good people within the sector is that without having a strong personal brand it is easy for the reputation of the last place you worked to have a significant effect on your own personal reputation and in turn you ability to acquire new roles.  Over the last few years with collapse of large players such as Vocation, ACN, and Careers Australia, and a range of smaller players as well, we have seen high quality trainers and assessors struggle to find new roles because of their association with a failed provider, or worse one that was viewed as having been less than scrupulous in its activities.  I know several people for whom it took almost 6 months to find new roles due to the stink of association shall we say.  A strong personal brand may not solve this problem entirely but it can certainly make it much easier to overcome the issues arising from association with a bad brand.

As I said however the issue of employment and employability are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value that a strong personal brand and reputation can bring to someone in the VET and L&D sectors in general.  Information and connection are also key pieces of value which flow out of a strong brand and reputation.  A point that I made recently at a small training workshop on building personal brand was that, brand and reputation bring with them trust, and trust brings a willingness for people to connect and talk with you.  People will ask for opinions and advice, invite you forums and discussion, which all of which in turn, if managed well, continues to build trust, reputation, connection and brand.  In essence it gets you known to people, and getting known to people is the missing link for most people.  As a lot of people will know I am often invited to sit on consultation and advisory groups, forums and other panels and committees, and asked for formal or informal advice from range of stakeholders, all of this is the result of being known, and of people trusting my input and advice, all of this is the result of brand and reputation.

Some people may ask the question, why, why would I want to be involved in all of these things, I am happy where I am, and doing what I do.  And if that is the case then that is fantastic.  if however you feel like you want to play a greater role in the sector you are part of, have the ability to have some input and have a voice around your sector, then building your brand and the reputation and connections that brand brings is the simplest way to do that.

So how do you build your brand, how do you make yourself not just known in the sector but recognised for what you bring to the table.

Well that’s something I will discuss in another post



About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

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