Personal Branding: Be an Advocate for Yourself

While your everyday job may offer various opportunities to be an advocate for your industry, company, or products and services, how often do you advocate for yourself and work on improving your personal brand? A personal brand is how you portray yourself both online and in person. As with a company brand, your personal brand should be consistent across all channels and should represent who you are.

iStock_000014300896_Small1. Decide what you stand for.
First, determine who you are, what your values are, and how you want to represent yourself. Choose three to five values that guide your moral compass, and design a strategy from there. Personally, I would use “trustworthy,” “committed,” and “respectful” to describe myself.

In my role as staff liaison to IMA’s technical advisory committees, these three values are essential. I conduct myself in a way that committee members have faith in how I communicate and respect their position on technical issues that impact the management accounting profession.

2. Share relevant content often.
Always be careful of what you post on a public social media profile. Delete inappropriate pictures or content on your profile that might discredit you, or make your profile private. Instead, post blogs or articles you wrote or share relevant research in your field. This will show your enthusiasm for knowledge sharing and career development. Creating a posting plan will help you stay organized and ensure you maintain a healthy stream of content.

It’s also important to share content with your coworkers who may have similar interests. This knowledge sharing at work can boost your reputation and can prove your integrity as an expert in your field. In turn, your coworkers might advocate for you as well.

3. Network and get involved with groups that interest you.
Connect with companies and causes you’re interested in to show what you’re passionate about outside of work. Not only will this boost your brand, but connecting with these companies online will give you real-time news updates and research in your news feed. You’ll also stay informed with industry networking events and meetings.

For example, I follow IMA® and Fairleigh Dickinson University, my alma mater, on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to stay connected with my company and what’s going on with other alumni at the University. I use the discussion forums as networking opportunities and as a way to search for in-person events the alumni association holds.

Your Personal Brand at Work
Becoming a self-advocate means you stick to your values. Since mobile apps are so readily available, your digital persona is at your fingertips 24/7. It’s very easy to share information these days. You can use it to your advantage, but don’t lose sight of your values and what you stand for. Being a professional online is just as important as acting professionally in person. As we become more and more tech savvy, don’t forget about the value of in-person connections. These interactions can leave impressions stronger than any digital footprint.

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE

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Advocate Spotlight: Gerhard Mueller and Zhang Xinmin

Advocacy is very important to the success of IMA and the global expansion of the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential and the management accounting profession. As part of our advocacy program, every year we award individual advocates (members and nonmembers) for enforcing IMA’s mission and values around the world.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge a few outstanding people who helped make IMA the organization it is today. They make the moments matter for students, academics, and professionals around the world. This year’s winners of our Distinguished Advocate Awards are Gerhard Mueller and Zhang Xinmin.

gerhard mueller

Gerhard Mueller, CPA, Ph.D.
Gerhard (Gary) Mueller is a retired accounting professor at University of Washington, Seattle. He is known as the Father of International Accounting Education because of his early advocacy of international accounting recognition and education. Gary is also a former member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).

Although Gary isn’t an IMA member, he has advocated on behalf of IMA for many years. It began with the publication of his book A New Introduction to Accounting in 1971, his involvement in the Accounting Education Change Commission in 1989, and culminated in his support of IMA’s Consortium for Accounting Education Improvement, which produced the 1995 and 1999 Practice Analysis of Management Accounting.

zhang xinminZhang Xinmin
Zhang is the vice president of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing, China, and is a board member of the Accounting Society of China (ASC). He is well-known for having founded financial reporting quality analysis theory.

Zhang has helped IMA sign a strategic alliance contract with UIBE and has helped establish IMA’s Chinese Education Steering Committee, which promotes the management accounting education system established by IMA’s Higher Endorsement Program. With Zhang’s advocacy, interest in IMA and the CMA program has grown, and continues to grow, in China.

Advocating for the Future
On behalf of IMA members, IMA’s advocacy committees engage and suggest solutions to standard setters and regulatory agencies, such as the FASB, Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), and others.

In addition, our Campus Advocate Program allows academic leaders to be ambassadors for IMA. Campus Advocates are the key link between IMA and their college/university. They help shape the future of their students and the management accounting profession.

For me advocacy means supporting a cause or proposal in a way that results in a positive influence toward the cause. In the world of management accounting, advocacy efforts make a positive impact if they result in relieving management accountants from less complex accounting standards and financial disclosures. What does advocacy mean to you?

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE

Related Articles:

IMA Announces Winners of 2015 Annual Global Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award – IMA

Top 3 Benefits of Advocacy

Advocacy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.” For nonprofit associations, in particular, advocacy and relationships with other influential organizations is of utmost importance. You can show your advocacy by writing articles and comment letters or taking part in meetings with standard setters, giving a voice to your membership.

Advocacy demonstrates an organization’s dedication, loyalty, and passion for a cause that may be the heartbeat of its members. Advocacy provides many benefits for organizations, but here’s what I chose as the top three.

Protect Member InterestsiStock_000015030984_Large_green
There are a number of ways to protect your stakeholders’ interests, in turn creating trust. For one, sending out research surveys helps your organization get a pulse of what members need and want and help provide appropriate products and services to specific locales. This also expands your reach and opens up new markets for your organization.

In addition, you can create committees dedicated to advocating for your cause that will give your membership a voice. These committees are at the forefront of the cause that gauge stakeholder interest through meetings and voice those opinions to standard setters. This creates trust among members, and when members trust their organization, they become loyal and more engaged in the organization’s volunteer community.

Increase in Volunteer Engagement
If your organization has loyal members and is advocating for their interests, chances are that interest in becoming a volunteer will grow. IMA’s Financial Reporting Committee, Small Business Financial and Regulatory Affairs Committee, Technology Solutions and Practices Committee, and Committee on Ethics are made up of volunteer leaders who increasingly advocate for best practices in the management accounting profession through articles in Strategic Finance and IMA Online News.

The increase in member engagement will help you retain members by giving them the opportunity to have their voices heard and creating an atmosphere of unity and commitment to a common cause. Then you’ll be able to rely more on volunteers around the world to advocate for your cause.

Volunteers are essential for running a nonprofit organization, and reminding them of how valuable they are is equally as important since they are the feet on the street that keeps your organization running.

iStock_000024796735LargeBuild Partnerships and Alliances
When you connect with other organizations, you strengthen your foothold in the industry and make your voice of advocacy stronger. To create partnerships, research organizations that advocate for similar causes, have a similar membership base, and are in a similar industry.

Draw upon these alliances when writing comment letters to take advantage of the power of numbers. Representatives from large firms can all address the same issues, but the letter will be stronger if all the firms collaborate on it together. This will help your organization determine the future of your industry or cause.

Advance Your Cause
When I came on board with IMA, my position as Director of Professional Advocacy was newly created. As time went on, we realized the need for a full-time liaison between IMA’s technical committees and IMA members. So my position evolved to fill a need in the marketplace, and I’m proud of the committees we’ve created to increase our advocacy on behalf of IMA membership.

All nonprofit organizations should create advocacy groups to advance their cause. Providing opportunities to give input will give your members a voice in the industry. And working with partner organizations and loyal members-turned-volunteers strengthens your advocacy voice around the globe.

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA

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Volunteer Leadership – What’s In It For You?

In professional associations, many Puzzle on white background. Isolated 3D imageleadership opportunities exist for volunteers. It is this powerful relationship between the association and its volunteer members that help organizations deliver their mission.

Throughout my career, I’ve had numerous leadership opportunities including my current role as IMA’s director of market advocacy. I have the pleasure to serve as a staff liaison to IMA’s three technical committees to ensure that these groups represent the interests of accounting and finance professionals everywhere.

Aside from the intangible benefits that volunteerism brings, such as a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and giving back, I see three tangible benefits that our volunteer leaders gain through their roles.

Making Connections

As I’ve observed from the volunteers I work with, participating on a committee can expose you to a variety of people with a common interest. volunterer_leadership-QuoteProfessional associations offer access to boards, committees, subcommittees, and ad-hoc groups—a plethora of opportunities for volunteers to broaden their networks and commit to a shared common goal. In my role, I get to strengthen my existing relationships with members, as well as meet people in my field with a multitude of perspectives from around the globe. Networking is important to everyone, regardless of your career level. Business contacts and even personal friendships can stem from volunteer positions.


Advancing Your Skill Set and Your Career

Volunteer roles help you gain experience in a particular area of interest, practice relevant skills in a safe environment, and learn what it takes to be an effective leader to aid in the progression of your career path. Going outside of your normal day-to-day job is a differentiator that also adds skills to your résumé. Volunteer roles can help you gain experience you may not otherwise be able to get.

Yet, as important as it is to step up and be a leader, it’s also important to step back, share your knowledge with others, and allow them to step up. The most valuable experience I’ve gained as a leader is learning to facilitate successful outcomes without controlling the process. True leaders assist in the process of grooming someone else to lead a task. Being a strategic thinker and creating opportunities for others is also a rewarding experience, as you watch others grow from your guidance.

Impacting a Cause

At IMA, our volunteers serve as a voice, not only within a group, but on behalf of the profession as a whole. Advocating for a cause enhances technical knowledge while helping the greater good. At IMA, our volunteers are passionate about serving the interests of small businesses, promoting sound financial reporting standards, and educating the business community about important issues that impact them in some way.

If you have an opportunity to take on a leadership role, go for it. These valuable experiences will help you expand your knowledge, create lasting personal and professional relationships, and make a powerful difference in the community.

Have you had an interesting volunteer experience? Did it exceed your expectations?

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA

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