To build your career, build your own brand.

ReedHowardIt used to be that people worked for the same company their entire careers, stuck with their employer through thick and thin, then retired with a nice gold watch. That’s not the case anymore. Today, more than ever, it’s important to develop and protect your own personal brand.

Market Watch says U.S. workers had an average job tenure of 4.6 years in 2012, the last year for which figures are available. And the trend holds up within almost every industry, age, and gender category.

While I still believe in being loyal to your employer and always giving more than 100% effort, the fact is that companies can no longer afford to overlook non-performance. Why? Margins are thinner, there’s not as much profit being made overall, and companies are not making so much money they can afford to carry a workforce that’s not producing. Plus, the old 80/20 principle doesn’t apply as often anymore and you rarely see those “home-run hitters” producing 80% of a company’s results.

So how does this apply to you in 2016? It may sound selfish, but each of us should look to build our own brand, our own following, and our own network of like-minded peers. I was fortunate to learn early in my career that it’s not as important which company you work for as much as your individual reputation and how smart you work. If you develop a group of people who trust you and like to conduct business with you, success will follow. People like to do business with someone they like and can trust. 

3 keys to building your brand and your value.

  1. Continually expand your network and your database. Think “bigger is better,” engage more on social media, including LinkedIn. Make it a priority to travel outside your local city and make new contacts. As a BDO, it used to be you could make a living wooing just a handful of local referral sources but those days are long gone; you need to make it your goal to meet hundreds if not thousands of new people and target those with common interests. I know too many people who have fallen by the wayside and left the industry because their old way of doing things doesn’t work anymore.
  1. Only pursue deals you know your company will do. Know your company’s credit box and stick to it. Educate your referral sources so you’re not wasting anyone’s time. It may seem counterintuitive, but often a quick no is better than a long, drawn-out yes.
  1. Follow the Golden Rule. Sounds simple, but it doesn’t happen enough anymore. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, call people back on a timely basis, and do everything (including signing up new clients) with integrity. Make sure you do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, even if it’s just sending someone a new contact’s name and number. At the end of the day, all you have in our industry is your name and if you’ve created a viable brand for yourself, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.

Author: Reed Howard, Lender Recruiting

Before founding Lender Recruiting in 2010, Reed Howard served as Chief Financial Officer for ResortVentures, LLC, an Atlanta-based real estate development company.  In this role, he was responsible for financial oversight and asset management for the ownership group of a recently opened five-star resort in Cabo San Lucas named Capella Pedregal (www.capellacabo.com).

Reed has 28 years of equipment leasing, asset-based lending and factoring experience having served in various senior level positions in sales, marketing and credit.  Prior experience includes Division President and Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for several business units within Textron Financial Corporation, Division President for Omni National Bank’s Factoring Division, Vice President of Business Development for Presidential Financial Corporation, Vice President of Business Development for Wells Fargo Business Credit, and Vendor Finance Group Manager for CIT.

When he is not busy serving his clients at Lender Recruiting, Reed is active in several finance associations including the Commercial Finance Association (CFA) and served as Treasurer then as President for the Atlanta Chapter of the National Funding Association (NFA) in years 2006 through 2008.

As a native of metro Atlanta, Reed is active in the local community spending as much time as possible enjoying outdoor sports with family and friends.  Reed is a graduate of Kennesaw State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.  He contributes much of his professional success to his core values of integrity and character.  Reed believes that what talent can build over a lifetime, bad character can destroy in a moment.

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