Forbes—Tips from the trenches

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, my co-author (and fellow Forbes blogger) Jessica Kleiman and I share tips and advice from friends, colleagues and key experts in PR and beyond. One person who has great wisdom on how to brand yourself isJonah Disend, the founder and CEO of Redscout, a brand development shop that has helped companies in every category from fashion to fast food (including GatoradeKellogg’s and Kate Spade) realize their potential.

We caught up with him recently to get his insights about standing out in a good way at work including the importance of setting personal/professional guard rails and finding a mentor to help steer your career.

Why is it so important these days to stand out in the workplace?

Now more than ever, employers are looking for uniqueness over degrees and pedigree. If you don’t offer something different than everyone else you won’t get noticed.

What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?

In a business where information is fast moving, watch what you say and to whom. A tweet this morning could be a news story….well, later this morning.

What are your top networking tips?

Never try too hard. At an event, I tend to spend most of my time watching and learning. Then, when the time is right and I feel that I understand my audience, I start “working it.”

What’s your advice for developing a relationship with someone you don’t know?

Nothing helps bring the barriers down like a real connection, whether it be a common interest or mutual friend.

How important is it to break through the clutter when you’re trying to stand out—and what’s the best way to do so?

It is quite easy to stand out; however, the challenge is standing out in the right way. By knowing your brand and setting some personal guard rails, you are able to take risks without sending out the wrong message.

Do you use social media and the Web to market yourself or further your career? If so, how?

LinkedIn has been my greatest networking tool – it helps me keep track of all of the people whom I have worked with over the years. Facebook is also a good way to allow people to see a bit more of your personality, but I never use it for work; it feels too invasive.

What’s your best tip for how to get what you want at work?

Not to sound too new-agey, but I believe that if you can’t visualize it it’s not going to happen for you. Make sure you actually know what you want before you commit a lot of time and energy in the wrong direction.

Lots of recent (and not so recent graduates) continue to struggle to find a job. What is the one piece of advice that you wish you knew when you were graduating?

I was SO clueless about the world when I graduated, but I thought I knew everything. I wish someone told me to do less talking and more listening.

That said, I think that there is a lot of opportunity out there for recent grads, but college doesn’t train you on how to stand out. That is something you have to learn on your own. My biggest recommendation is to find a mentor and listen to them!

What is the guiding principle or mission for your business or how you engage in the workplace?

If someone doesn’t see themselves, their business or their world differently after working with me, then I haven’t done my job.

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