Imagine if your own personal brand was as solid and well-known as Lego or Nike. Would you have any problem finding a new job? Probably not. So, let’s get started building own brand – so you can use it strategically in your career.
Branding matters. No one really questions this. But, did you even consider that the same goes for your own personal brand?
Think of your personal brand as a way of telling who you are, what you do – and why you do it. If you do it well, you can build a powerful, attractive and visible brand, that will help you stand out from the crowd. It will show your value, expertise and experience – and help you build your reputation, credibility and success in your professional and personal life. What’s not to like about that?
Branding however, is not the same as knitting a tall tale about a person that is not really you. It has to be honest and authentic. And all your professional and private actions will either strengthen or break down your brand.
This effort to reinforce who you are and what you stand for takes time and energy. In this blogpost we will guide you through what a personal brand is, why you need it, how you build it – and how to use it strategically in your career.
What is a personal brand?
Also known as self-positioning, personal branding is about people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. It’s an ongoing process of establishing and supporting an impression in the minds of other people. The relationship between your brand and the rest of the world is constantly made and remade. And this is why the work with your personal brand is an effort that is never-ending.
Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.
- Marketers David McNally and Karl Speak
Why do I need a personal brand?
Think of your personal brand as the way people would describe you if you were not there. Of course, you would want to have influence over this. If your future employers know your strengths, career goals, and aspirations, this perception will have a positive impact on how they perceive you. If you have done your personal branding well, that is.
If you don’t have a personal brand, you’ll leave it up to others to label you. And that could be in ways that are not aligned with who you want to become. So – define your personal brand, before others do it.
Consider your personal brand as your elevator pitch. It has to be short and precise – and fit your audience.
Finding it hard to describe yourself?
Start by defining who you are and your unique abilities in one single sentence.
How do I build my personal brand?
Don’t expect the rest of the world to find out how brilliant you are – make sure to tell them instead. Your work doesn’t speak for itself, unfortunately. And maybe you don’t like those of your colleagues who are self-promoting or bragging, but truth be told, they are building up their personal brand story while doing it.
Get started! But don’t talk about you – talk about others and what you can do for them. Start by asking yourself some questions:
- Where do I want to be and why?
- What makes me different from the rest?
- What benefits do I bring?
- Within what areas can I offer the most value?
- What needs can I address?
- What proof do I have to support what I offer?
- Who’s my target audience?
- What’s my competition?
You should consider all of these questions in order to get closer to your personal brand. This will help you focus on where you should invest more time and energy. And less for that matter. Because not only is it about strengthening your personal brand further, but also about reconsidering those of your actions that don’t support your brand. Maybe they are blurring the picture or sending mixed signals about where you stand. You can’t say that you are a glowing advocate for animal rights and at the same time post pictures on social media of yourself hunting endangered species in Africa. Consistency is key here. These questions should help you define your uniqueness, your values – and what you can offer an employer. And keep in mind that you have to be authentic. If not, your audience wont’ believe, trust you, engage with you and spread your branding further.
Don’t know what people’s perception of you is? Talk to different people – friends, neighbors and business associates – to understand how they perceive your strengths.
How can I use my personal brand strategically?Once you have discovered what your personal brand is (by answering the questions above), you should start creating it. You do that by allowing people to see what you’re all about. Some of the ways to do so are:
- Business cards
- Reference documents
- Blog or website
- LinkedIn profile
- Facebook profile
- Twitter profile
- Email address
Use every interaction and opportunity to further strengthen your personal brand. And make sure to invest time in doing so. Every day.
Also, remember to engage with selected projects, conferences, meeting, relationships, and influencers that can help you build an even more focused personal brand.
What will I get out of my personal branding?
We cannot promise you that jobs will be falling from the sky and you can pick and choose from the topshelf. But if you do your homework properly, you will potentially gain one or more of the following outputs.
- Confidence. When you clearly define your values and your strengths, you also become more confident about what makes you special – and how you can contribute at a workplace.This is a way of developing a unique version of you and help find your voice and authenticity.
- Opportunities. When you have an attractive brand, you will find that opportunities come your way. Don’t become depressed if they aren’t job offerings. One thing can lead to another, and you should welcome everyone who reaches out to you. Betting noticed is a success for your personal brand.
- Networking. Your compelling brand will help you network – both online and in-person. When people find you interesting and desirable they want to connect, shake hands, look at your profile, lean more, meet up. Engage. This is when you begin reaping the benefits of your hard work.
- Personality. Hiring managers use LinkedIn and Facebook to hire, and many companies post jobs on Twitter before anywhere else. Especially Facebook gives your audience an understanding of who you are as a person and if you fit into a certain organizational culture. A good tip is to create a blog with relevant topics, tweet about your industry and hobbies. This is a direct window into your personality.
- Optimizing your chances of success. The mere fact that you are out there, spreading your personal brand, you are making it more likely that good things will happen.
Sources: Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com