I recently accepted invitations to join the Board of Directors for two organizations I care about – theWashington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) and Women in Government Relations (WGR). These groups didn’t simply pick my name out of a hat.

I have been involved with WGR since 2007, rising in the ranks from a volunteer to a co-chair for the leading task force and now, a Board Director. My involvement with WAPA is more recent but no less integral to my role in the DC automotive community both as a blogger and an industry consultant.

As I reflected on how exactly I garnered these two positions, I determined quickly that the answer was simple – I was passionate about their causes and their memberships.

They selected me because they know me as a strategic communications and public relations specialist who has a strong knowledge and background in the automotive industry, government relations, advocacy and social media. That is my professional brand. I’m also known as someone who commits 110% to what I believe in. I’m a listener who rarely shies away from giving thoughtful, honest feedback. That is (at least in part) my personal brand.

Why does any of this matter?

I believe that sharing this information with those who are new to the workplace can be helpful to them in their career growth. After all, Beekeeper Group now has 10 staff members outside of its five founding partners. Our hive is filling with the very young professionals I’m hoping to reach.

I’ve written on this blog before about personal branding. Why the focus on this topic? I believe that developing a solid personal brand is a large part of professional success.

In my discussions about developing these brands, I always come back to passion. Once you discover your passion or passions, then you’re on your way to a fulfilling career.

Here are FOUR TIPS for garnering a leadership role:

  1. Discover your passion. What issue(s) do you care about? Public policy? New media? Women in the workplace? Choose a cause and look to get involved.
  2. Be committed. You can’t emerge as a leader without committing to your passion. Pick one or two organizations to get involved in. Volunteer your time. Network with other like-minded and similar people.
  3. Voice your opinions. Just because you’re not part of leadership (yet!), doesn’t mean your insights aren’t valuable. Don’t be afraid to give advice and be part of the larger group discussion.
  4. Be a resource. In addition to being committed and involved, you should always be available. Be there for others in the organization who look to you for thought leadership in particular areas.

Personal and professional brands work hand-in-hand. Set yearly goals for both. Use your professional skills to define your personal brand while developing these four areas of your professional life to garner that Board position or other leadership role that you’re hoping to land.